The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association has changed its name to Peninsula Therapeutic Riding to more aptly describe the type of services it provides to the community. Pictured are

The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association has changed its name to Peninsula Therapeutic Riding to more aptly describe the type of services it provides to the community. Pictured are

KAREN GRIFFITHS’ HORSEPLAY COLUMN: Riding clinic on lookout for help

YVETTE LUDWAR HAS a heart of gold with a bulldog tenacity, and she’s on the hunt for a benevolent benefactor to give Peninsula Therapeutic Riding in Sequim a permanent facility with an indoor area so she can give lessons year-round.

Founded by Yvette in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, it became a legal not-for-profit organization in 1999.

Name change

Recently, NARHA’s board of directors and Yvette agreed that changing the name to Peninsula Therapeutic Riding would give the public a better idea of its services: offering a variety of equine-assisted activities to youths and adults with physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, autism and multiple sclerosis, as well at-risk youths, wounded vets and children ages 3 and older.

I’ve personally seen the smiling faces of her students with physical disabilities riding “their” ponies and spoke with several older folks with physical disabilities who have glowingly credited the riding program with giving their bodies — and souls — more freedom of movement.

Sadly, at its currently leased 5 acres off Taylor Cutoff Road in Sequim, the facility has to close during the winter and bad weather, so I’m hoping she can find a benefactor soon.

‘Weather-dependent’

“Right now, we are weather-dependent,” Yvette said. “And when you live in an area that rains all winter, that means we can’t be open for lessons.”

However, just because she can’t give lessons doesn’t mean the center lies dormant.

It’s the time of year Yvette gains more therapy instructor certification through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International and spends a lot of time and energy on her after-school program for troubled youths; their youthful energy is put to use by helping brush and clean up after the 14 horses and ponies.

While the youths in the program may be close to flunking or being kicked out of school for truancies, “most of the time, these youths just need someone to care about them and give them a little guidance,” Yvette said.

“I’m really dedicated to seeing these kids graduate from Running Start or high school.”

Donations, especially of hay and feed, are always welcome, as well as wood and other building material to help maintain the property and shelters.

“Right now, we’re in need of old T-posts if anyone has some they’d like to donate,” Yvette said.

Other items on her wish list include a small office trailer or structure in which to set up an office.

And most important, she said, “because many of our young riders and their families are low-income or face high health bills, donations and scholarships to keep these children riding are welcome and greatly appreciated.”

While awaiting their new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization paperwork to come through, donations still can be made. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/bjqbsgo or phone Yvette at 360-582-0907.

Events

■ Saturday — “Preparing the Equine Body for Performance” clinic by Jerry Pelikan of Ravensdale.

Phone Sue Carver at 360-683-7538 or email stoneyhillranch@yahoo.com.

Held at Baker Stables, 164 Four Winds Road, Port Angeles.

■ Noon to 3 p.m. Sunday — Freedom Farms cowmanship class.

■ 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 23 — Show practice at Freedom Farm, 493 Spring Road, Agnew.

Contact Mary Gallagher at 360-457-4897 or freedomf@olypen.com, or email www.freedom-farm.net.

■ Noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, March 24 — Freedom Farm adult workshop.

■ Noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, March 31 — Freedom Farm Mini Beats Charity Drive and Easter Egg Hunt.

Mini Beats is open to all riders under 100 pounds.

All proceeds benefit Peninsula Friends of Animal.

________

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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