KAREN GRIFFITHS’ HORSEPLAY COLUMN: Equine center a boon for all youths

SHE’S A FRIEND in need who’s spent countless hours helping community youths have a better life through the use of her ponies, and now she could use our help in feeding those ponies and keeping her program afloat.

I’m in awe of how giving Yvette TwoRabbits Ludwar, founder of the Native Horsemanship Riding Center, is to our youths, especially to those with special needs.

To my knowledge, the center is the only facility in the area offering lessons to youths with physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and autism, as well at-risk youths and able-bodied ones ages 3 and older.

Needs help

The nonprofit center could use our help staying afloat.

“We would like to encourage folks to remember Native Horsemanship when considering gift-giving,” said NHRC member Sharon Hogue.

“Our treasury is running seriously low; we have just about enough cash on hand to get us through the month of December and no further. We need help in buying hay and grain for the ponies.”

She, along with the other 25-plus members, are asking folks to think about donating one bale of hay or more to the ponies that toil all year long, giving their “brand of love to the children we support with therapeutic riding.”

She said each bale of hay now costs about $5.

“If you can do it, please send your personal check for $5 or more to our charitable organization,” said Sharon.

The address is 396 Taylor Cutoff Road, Sequim, WA 98362. It is tax-deductible.

Movement is medicine, and Yvette is certified through the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, which this year changed its acronym to PATH — Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship — because it’s now an internationally recognized equine therapeutic program.

Builds confidence

“Riding helps build confidence in children,” said Yvette.

Equine therapy is known to help the mentally and physically abused child gain better coping skills and help them overcome troubling issues.

On occasion, Child Protective Services, the state agency that watches over abused youths, refers children to the center.

The ponies that carry children for lessons and therapy sessions are very in tune with their little charges.

Everyone is welcome to the center to watch a lesson or even volunteer to lend a hand.

If you do, you’ll see it’s clear the pony senses that it needs to move with special care for the youngster on its back.

The ponies actually become proud of the work they do.

It’s also evident that the time spent with a pony engages a child, bringing out big smiles of delight.

“By placing children in a safe atmosphere, you are helping their courage and self-esteem,” said Yvette, who makes her own saddles with deep secure seats for riders with special needs.

The arena is set up for fun and games. Obstacle courses are varied based on each child’s ability.

However, the center isn’t only for youngsters; horses are available for adults, and there’s even a Junior Wrangler program for teens.

Let’s face it: The center fills a much-needed niche in our region.

Let’s do what we can to support it.

For more information, phone Yvette at 360-582-0907 or visit the website at www.nativehorserc.weebly.com/who-we-are.html. You can support the program by buying NHRC merchandise at www.cafepress.com/nativehorserc.

Reminder

What’s the biggest factor in animal nutrition? Water.

You can provide a gourmet diet, but if you don’t keep the water fresh and available, horses and livestock won’t thrive.

A lack of water can contribute to colic by impaction.

Furnishing an adequate supply of fresh water is essential for horses.

University of Kentucky data show that mature horses require 8 to 12 gallons of water per animal each day.

Ponies and horse foals require 6 to 8 gallons a day.

To encourage drinking and to keep the water from freezing, add a stock tank deicer, available at local feed stores.

Events

■ 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday — Dressage clinic at Freedom Farms with Michelle Grimmer, a talented event and dressage rider as well as an accomplished instructor and clinician.

Phone Mary Gallagher at 360 457 4897 or visit www.freedomfarms.net.

■ 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8 — Olympic Peninsula Arabian Club ride at Sandy Shore.

________

Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Wednesday.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at kbg@olympus.net at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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