NRADC Silent Auction to Benefit NARHA's Horses for Heroes
FEI-Level dressage riders Ann Guptill & Lou Denizard gather donations for second silent auction
The New England dressage community is again teaming up to support NARHA Horses for Heroes, a program that was created to provide equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) for wounded U.S. military personnel and veterans. In spite of the economic recession, the dressage and equestrian community has been generous again in 2009, with almost $7,500 in goods and services donated this year to be auctioned off during the Northeast Regional Adult Amateur Dressage Championships (NRADC) at Mystic Valley Hunt Club in Gales Ferry, Connecticut on October 10 & 11, 2009.
Ann Guptill, owner of Fox Ledge Farm, and Lou Denizard, owner of Delante Equestrian Center, have asked their colleagues, friends, peers, and students to come together to support Horses for Heroes by donating lessons, training, show entry fees, and other items and services to be sold with all proceeds going to NARHA. Guptill and Denizard's requests were met with enthusiastic support, with many prominent riders, trainers, and farms in the area stepped forward and pledged their support.
Guptill said, "I was intrigued by Horses for Heroes when I first read about it last year. The physical and emotional help that horses can give to any injured or disabled person is amazing. Horses give so much of themselves to their riders, it is very fitting that they give to our service personnel who have given their all to serve our country."
Denizard "I believe in NARHA's Horses for Heroes because of the good that horses have in them for healing the mind and soul. These soldiers have risked their lives for our country, and many have been severely injured in the process and will have lifelong disabilities. Any and all ways we can give back to support them is very important."
Last year, with the help of Denizard, the NRADC Silent Auction raised more than $3,000 for NARHA Horses for Heroes. Denizard is enthusiastic about the program, saying "I firmly believe in this program because of the good that horses have in them for healing the mind and soul. These soldiers have risked their lives for our country and it is important for all of us to give back to support them."
Although the recession has certainly impacted many horse show venues and vendors, the NRADC committee hopes that the dressage community will feel good about spending money at the Silent Auction for NARHA Horses for Heroes. In addition to getting good deals on many goods and services, winning bidders often get an opportunity to train with someone who was previously inaccessible to them. Courtney King-Dye, who represented the U.S. in the Beijing Olympics, has supported this effort by donating lessons to the auction. Jayne Marino of Mistover Farms donated $250 in services for the second year in a row, and Ten Broeck Farm's Phil Silva, who runs a successful equine transportation service, has generously donated transportation from New England to Florida for one horse – a service valued at $1500.
Numerous research studies have shown that individuals who participate in equine-assisted therapies can experience physical, emotional, and mental rewards. Because horseback riding rhythmically moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength. For individuals with mental or emotional disabilities, the unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience and self-esteem. The sense of independence found on horseback benefits all that ride. In addition to the therapeutic benefits, horseback riding also provides recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors.
Horses for Heroes was developed specifically to aid wounded military personnel and veterans. The Horses for Heroes Task Force works directly with the U.S. Veterans' Administration to shape the program to meet the specific needs of soldiers. "Appreciating the power of the horse to change lives is our goal," said NARHA Past President Dr. Paul Spiers, "and NARHA wants to provide positive change for these very special lives. Our service personnel have fought to preserve our freedom, and, for many, at a very dear cost. We must be certain that if our wounded service personnel and veterans need and want this kind of help, they will get the best NARHA has to offer."
The Task Force has been developing the program and the pilot methods to be used for educating member instructors and centers interested in starting a program. Currently, Windrush Farm in Boxford, Massachusetts, offers this program in New England. Many NARHA centers have been offering these services to veterans for years, but NARHA's goal is to expand the program for military personnel, making the benefits available to a broader scope of individuals.
NARHA was formed in 1969 to promote EAAT for individuals with and without special needs. Nearly 800 NARHA member centers partner equines with NARHA Certified Instructors and various professionals, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, psychiatrists and social workers to physically improve, emotionally empower and socially enhance the lives of individuals with and without special needs.
More than 40,000 children and adults find a sense of independence through involvement with horses at NARHA centers nationwide. These member centers range from small, one-person programs to large operations with several certified instructors and licensed therapists. In addition to therapeutic riding, a center may offer any number of equine assisted activities and therapies including hippotherapy, equine facilitated mental health, carriage driving, interactive vaulting, trail riding, competition, ground work or stable management. Through a wide variety of educational resources, the association helps individuals start and maintain successful equine assisted activity and therapy programs. There are more than 31,000 volunteers, 3,000 instructors, 5,900 therapy horses and thousands of contributors from all over the world helping people at NARHA centers.
Founded in 1973, the United States Dressage Federation is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage. For more information about USDF membership or programs, visit www.usdf.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (859) 971-2277.