Thursday, August 25, 2011

The 'Horse' Power

Emily Piccirilli just finished her second summer with DCR's Universal Access Program serving as an office clerk and providing registration and support at programs. As an avid horseback rider, she recently visited our small by mighty riding program at Bradley Palmer State Park. Here is her Guest Post perspective on the program!
Someone once told me that there is a healing ability within horses. Whether you have a disability or you just need time away from the stresses of life, horses have a way with a person that is magical. A "man's best friend" may be even better applied to horses. They have a way of boosting the confidence within yourself, and sensing your emotions and abilities. When a relationship is formed between horse and rider the healing is endless.

I have a strong passion for horses. I love anything to do with horses, from riding in the show ring to relaxing on a trail ride on a sunny day. I trained my first horse, being the first person on her back to compete at local 4-H shows. That was the most rewarding experience of my life. It was a lot of hard work, but work that I love. What I love most, however, is the bond I made between my horse and myself. You gain a friend that will always have your back no matter what.

I recently went to a therapeutic horseback riding program at Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield MA, run by Universal Access and Windrush Farm. Windrush Farm is a non-profit horse farm that allows emotionally, physically and learning disabled people to ride and work with horses that are located in the Boxford, MA area. Therapeutic horseback riding helps riders with their balance and motor skills. A lot of therapeutic riding takes place indoors in an open arena. The opportunity for people with disabilities to ride on the trail was a special experience for all who came.

I have been interested in therapeutic riding for some time and was so excited to go and be a part of this awesome program. When I got there the atmosphere was wonderful, the park itself is beautiful, and the people working the program were great! Gigi Ranno, Universal Access Outreach Coordinator, and Gina Armano, Windrush Farm Volunteer Coordinator, were there running the program that day and all of Gina's staff and volunteers were so friendly and helpful to the participants. The abundance of volunteers working to help with this program was phenomenal! That just goes to show what a great program and facility it is. Everyone loves helping out so much!

The staff where completely knowledgeable of horses, and knew how to best serve all of the participants. They took everything at a slow pace and kept everything relaxed. The participants were adult individuals and families with kids, and all enjoyed themselves so much. Another great thing about the program is that they are helping people to accomplish their goals in life. Just as one mother said to me as we were following the group of horseback riders down the trail: "I have a list of things I want my son to do in his life, and horseback riding was one of the ones at the top."

To see the smiles on all of the riders’ faces as they set off down the trail made my day. Every one of them had a blast and all you had to do was look at their faces to know that. Windrush Farm and Universal Access conduct this program twice every year at Bradley Palmer State Park. Now is the time to start planning for next year's program!
There are many other farms like Windrush all around Massachusetts. Visit to find a farm close to you!