Volunteer Karen Tanchak on morgan horse

NOTRA leads the way

North Okanagan Therapeutic Riding Association provides riding opportunities for children and adults with disabilities

North Okanagan Therapeutic Riding Association (NOTRA) volunteer Karen Tanchak calls horses “God’s magnificent creatures,” not just for what they have meant in her life but for how she sees them help change the lives of children and adults with disabilities.

“We have riders from three to 83. Riding helps physically with muscle development and motor skills and emotionally through improving communication skills and self-confidence,” she said.

Tanchak, her husband, Al, and other NOTRA volunteers work with participants in group and individual lessons.

Aleese Watkins, 14, is in her first year of riding with NOTRA after learning to ride with friends who have horses. She looks forward to coming to her lessons and enjoys everything about the program, including grooming the horses, putting the tack on them, and, of course, the riding.

“This is a good horse,” she said, as she got Thunder, the Tennessee walker she usually rides, ready for a session. While Watkins can do most of the preparation herself, the program is adapted for individual needs and volunteers saddle up the horses for those who can’t do it for themselves.

NOTRA, a non-profit society, was started in 1984 by Dr. Art Sovereign and his wife, Agnes, with longtime Vernon District Riding Club member June Osborn. The program moved to O’Keefe Ranch in 1993. Members of the society do fundraising so they are able to offer the therapeutic riding lessons at minimal cost. There are two sessions each year, spring and fall, for about 80 riders each time. The program presently has 14 horses, some donated, which have been trained for therapeutic sessions.

Group sessions include exercises in the ring, riding skills practice, games and a trail ride.

Watkins and Tanchak finish their time in the ring and head out for a trail ride, one of Watkins’ favourite parts of the program.

“I like being on top of a horse. It makes me happy,” she said.

Dani Goldenthal has been program director for 14 years.

“I had horses as a kid and worked with Special Olympics as a teen. I see so many benefits to riding. It loosens up tight muscles and increases core strength. It can be very calming,” she said. “Riding improves self-esteem and speech development in giving commands to the horses, as well as giving a sense of control to people who may not have much control or freedom in their lives.

“I like to see the seniors who come here. They might have had horses and love to be with them again. I love riding and I love to see that gift given to someone else — it’s wonderful to see the joy in their faces.”

There is always a need for volunteers with the program. The minimum age is 14 and people don’t need to have a background with horses as they can do things like walking beside the horses with the riders. Training is provided.

The NOTRA 21st Annual Poker Ride-A-Thon takes place June 24 starting at Coldstream  Ranch and continuing through Kal Lake Park and Cosens Bay and Bear Valley back to the ranch by Deep Lake with a choice of a one-and-a-half hour or three-hour ride. A barbecue lunch and entertainment and a variety of prizes are provided.

For more information about the ride or to pre-register (can also register the day of the ride), contact 250-549-0105 or notra@telus.net or see www.notra.info.

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: Power restored to Vernon

Power went down around 4:30 p.m. in the middle of the city, reportedly caused by vandalism

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mix of sun and clouds

Environment Canada is predicting a 30 per cent chance of showers and a risk of thunderstorms this afternoon across the Okanagan

Vernon pageant participant heads stateside

Samantha Sewell will represent North America at Miss Royalty International in Milwaukee

Vernon summer mural tours start with new guides

The mural tours started on June 28 and will run until Sept. 27

PHOTOS: Armstrong MetalFest rocks Hassen

Big crowds gather for popular two-day annual heavy metal music festival

VIDEO: Okanagan Valley weekday weather update

Environment Canada says it’s going to be a rainy week

Boy’s best friend gets help from South Okanagan community

Community rallies around dog that needed surgery for two broken legs

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

B.C.-wide police efforts identify Vancouver Island robbery suspect

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

UPDATE: special council meeting set for Wednesday, Basran in talks with province

Opponents of McCurdy house says she won’t ‘relinquish possession’ of more than 14,000 names

Most Read