SunCatcher Therapeutic Riding Academy’s season begins

For 18 years, the trained team of horses, instructors, and volunteers have been providing therapeutic equine riding services to many participants in the Black Hills area.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — This summer, SunCatcher has 50 riders taking up opportunities for equine therapy at the ranch, with age ranges from 4 to 60 years old. Each rider has a weekly session with their special horse.  

The purpose of equine therapy is to help riders develop skills and attributes such as self-control, responsibility and emotional awareness.

SunCatcher Rider

SunCatcher Rider

Jean Johnson’s son began riding 17 years ago and says it made a huge difference in his world, as it does many riders.

Johnson, who is the president of the SunCatcher Board of Director’s, says,  “What it does for them, is it helps them with their coordination, core strength, confidence, posture — all of those things are definitely aided in the therapeutic riding.”

The horses are in tune with the riders and can sense their emotional, behavioral and physical challenges.  

Johnson says, “Basically, the movement of the horse is similar to regular striding and walking. You’ll find that no matter what rider you put on the horse, the horse just kinda takes on a different personality. The horse can sense their ability and their needs.”

The certified instructors are teaching the riders of all abilities and special needs how to someday ride independently on a horse.

The smiles on the riders faces say it all. Some riders are also volunteers.

SunCatcher Therapeutic Riding Academy

SunCatcher Therapeutic Riding Academy

Frank Taylor Harwood, rider and volunteer, says, “I love it. The people, the horses, being out and about helping, communicating with everybody, interacting and meeting new people — just the ranch way of life.”

Some even became emotional when talking about their experiences and relationships. 

Darcy Peterson, 5th year rider, says, “Oh boy, I’m gonna cry about this. Because of Jean because, she honored me with a special award last time. She’s very special to me and this program is very special to me, and Pepper.”

And for the volunteers, it’s the change they see in the participants that makes their time at SunCatcher meaningful.

Horse Riders

Horse Riders

Samantha Gorder, SunCatcher volunteer, says, “It’s very rewarding to see people progress in the riding as well as verbal skills increase and their mobility gets better. And it’s just really awesome to watch.”

All are welcome to attend the SunCatcher Special Olympics Equestrians Area Show on June 29, click here more information.

Click here for more information on volunteer and donation opportunities at SunCatcher Riding Academy.

Categories: Local News