BAR HARBOR – Willowind Therapeutic Riding Center works with people of all ages who have physical or mental disabilities providing lessons and therapeutic riding.
If you’re physically disabled or unable to walk being confined to a wheelchair may be discouraging for some.
When you’re put on a horse you’re free.
“All of a sudden you have legs,” said David Folger, the director of Willowind Therapeutic Riding Center.
“You’re challenged by balance, muscle tone, a whole level of physical abilities that you cannot duplicate when you’re confined to a wheelchair or walker,” he said.
Folger said horses provide many benefits to a person’s physical, emotional and social well being. He said riders see an improvement in their confidence, balance and muscle strength.
“You learn to regulate your body quite well just by breathing and your balance and a feeling of leadership that requires to be a good rider,” said Folger.
Koosh is one of eight horses they have at Willowind. Folger said he’s becoming a primary horse with therapy rides.
“The herd has been together pretty much for 10 years solid. Each horse has a specific purpose being large horse for a larger person or a little pony for a small young adult,” said Folger.
Joyce Mitchell just recently started riding at Willowind.
“I’ve had horses all my life and then I had this stroke,” Mitchell said. “I can’t get off and on so I get to ride Percy.”
Mitchell rides once a week with the help from volunteers walking by her side and supporting her.
“It means everything,” said Mitchell. “I can never get in the saddle unless I’m here.”
Willowind is open all year seven days a week. Folger said anyone is welcome calling Willowind a center of inclusion.
“It’s an outlet. If you’re confined at home and then you can come here and have this opportunity it makes their week,” said Folger.