May 08 2014

Thriving In The Company Of Horses

By Kathryn Casey for The Island Connection

Photos by Ralph Secoy

Michelle has progressed form riding with four helpers to being able to trot with just one assistant.

Michelle has progressed form riding with four helpers to being able to trot with just one assistant.

On Sunday April 27, Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding hosted its 6th annual fundraiser, In the Company of Horses. The event, held at the organization’s home, the Brickhouse Equestrian Center on Johns Island, included live music, dinner and a silent auction. The evening raised over $60,000 for CATR’s scholarship program.

Stopping to smell the roses. Each one representing a riding lesson for a student in need.

Stopping to smell the roses. Each one representing a riding lesson for a student in need.

CATR’s policy is to never turn anyone away due to financial need.” Amanda Gerald, community relations director for CATR, said. “For the families who are able to pay, we charge a minimal fee representing 1/3 of the actual cost of a lesson.”

Murray Neale, head of the Brickhouse Equestrian Center, gives a speech during CATR’s annual fundraising event.

Murray Neale, head of the Brickhouse Equestrian Center, gives a speech during CATR’s annual fundraising event.

With surprising success, CATR serves those with special needs to develop trust, self-confidence, independence, physical balance and muscle tone. The event included a demonstration of the program’s work starring Michelle, who had progressed from riding with four helpers to one, and from a walk to trot.

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Michelle’s mother gave a truly moving testimonial to the assembled guests, most of whom were knowledgeable supporters who knew each other well, creating a family atmosphere.

Along with dinner and children’s activities, there were a number of opportunities to support CATR: a large silent auction, buying from the “Wine Wall” with a surprise bottle, art by the CATR horses, tee shirts and caps, and the highlight: purchasing keys only one of which unlocked winning a bicycle.

The primary fundraising event was the “Run for the Roses,” which asked for support in multiples of the cost of one riding session, $120 each. One rose was conferred for each $120 bid, which started at two dozen (that’s $2,880 for the math challenged).

Since 1991, CATR’s mission has been to improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities through therapeutic horseback riding. CATR is the area’s oldest nationally accredited therapeutic riding center. Therapeutic riding has been used for centuries. Ancient Greeks used horseback riding to help cure those with incurable illnesses.

Over the last decade, the spotlight has been shone on therapeutic riding by Lis Hartel. Hartel, a world renowned dressage rider, thought she would never ride again after contracting polio. Despite being paralyzed below the knees she continued to ride. Hartel pioneered a path for others with poor muscle function and disabilities to use riding as a rehabilitation treatment.

Therapeutic riding has been proven to help those with a variety of disabilities and afflictions. CATR currently serves people with amputations, autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, multiple sclerosis, multiple herodegenerative diseases, post traumatic stress, prader-willi syndrome, speech/language/hearing impairments, spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairments.

For more information, to volunteer, or book lessons, which helps support the therapeutic program, visit www.catrfarms.org or call 843.559.6040.

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