Just a few more days before the fall session of the 4-H Special Riding Program , also known as HRH, kicks off its fall session. There’s no denying that returning riders, volunteers, and program horses are looking forward to the big day!
What is the 4-H Special Riding Program
The Newaygo County 4-H Special Riding Program (HRH/PEP) is a riding program for individuals with special needs. The program has two sessions, one during the autumn and one in the spring, each runs for 6 consecutive Saturdays. Volunteers do not need to be Newaygo County 4-H members to participate.
The 2018 autumn session starts on Saturday, September 15.
The program has a history that spans several decades. It was originally held in the riding arena of a local 4-H leader before ultimately making the move in 1980 to Fremont Riding and Training Center, LLC. which provided it with an indoor arena that protects riders and volunteers from less than perfect weather conditions. In addition to an indoor arena, the stable has a waiting room where volunteers and riders can sit and relax.
Since the early days, the program has played a key role helping riders who struggle with physical, emotional, and cognitive disabilities use horses to develop a variety of skills. A P.A.T.H. certified instructor conducts the classes.
During the classes, horses and volunteers assist riders as they work through fun exercises designed to aid with:
- Improved self-confidence
- Better motor skills
- Stronger communication skills
- Develop problem solving and deductive reasoning skills
- Hone spatial awareness
- And more!
While riding, the students learn how to interact both with horses and people they otherwise wouldn’t come into contact with during the course of their average day.
The best part is seeing how happy sitting on a horse makes each rider!
The key to keeping this important program up and running is volunteers. It doesn’t matter how many riders want to participate or how hard the board members work to promote the program, if community members don’t step up and offer a few hours of their time the program’s future could be in jeopardy.
Volunteering couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is show up at Fremont Riding and Training Center LLC. and fill out some paperwork. Once the paperwork is signed and you’ve gone through a short orientation, you’re paired with a rider.
Don’t assume a lack of horse experience prohibits you from volunteering for this program, the program has opportunities for those who have been around horses their entire life and those who have never been near a horse. The only things needed to volunteer are a willing attitude, a minimum of 14 years old, have comfortable walking shoes (that have a closed toe and heel, no sandals,) long pants, and the ability to slowly walk around an arena for at least an hour (there are frequent stopping points during the classes, volunteers aren’t literally in motion for a full hour!)
The best thing about working as a volunteer with the Newaygo County 4-H Special Riding Program is the sheer joy you see on the rider’s faces as they guide their mounts around the arena.
High school students can apply the hours they spend helping out with the program towards their school community service hours. Volunteers under the age of 18 need to have their legal guardian sign the paperwork.
Want to know more about the Newaygo County 4-H Special Riding Program? Contact the MSU Newaygo County Extension office at 231-924-0500 or stop in at Fremont Riding and Training Center LLC. on the Saturdays the program takes place and offer your services. Barn doors open at 8:15 am. The program starts on Saturday September 15th and runs for six consecutive Saturdays. If you can’t make it on that day, no problem! There are five additional Saturday’s when you can volunteer. The program wraps up at 12:15. You can volunteer for the entire morning or just stick around for a single hour.
The program takes place at Fremont Riding and Training Center, LLC. which is located at 4327 S. Stone Rd, just to the north of Fremont.