HRC Column: Join Freedom Hooves for Tuesday Night Training
Hello all: Cisco the therapy horse here with a happy spring greeting from the herd at Freedom Hooves Therapeutic Riding of Northwest Colorado.
Excitement is in the air at the barn as the snow melts and the mud begins to dry. We aren’t just hanging out at the feeders eating hay anymore — there is green grass to chase on the pasture.
We are seeing familiar faces as the exercise team comes out to check in with us and get us in shape for the summer ahead.
There is a good feeling about this year amongst this seasoned herd. We are excited to have jobs again after a long, cold winter.
We are curious as to who will come back to see us this year. We wonder how many new human friends we will meet and how many equine candidates will come by this spring for tryouts.
This brings to mind our favorite program here at Freedom Hooves: Tuesday Night Trainings.
Each Tuesday during the season, a group of helpers gathers at the barn. These special folks come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences; old and young, students and teachers, parents and grandparents, big sisters and little brothers, big brothers and little sisters all with one common thread — they want to have fun with us.
The goals of the program are simple — to continue to produce the best trained therapy horses for Freedom Hooves activities, while giving a wide population of the community a chance to be a part of the process of helping others.
Together, we face a multitude of challenges presented in a variety of ways. We get to experience new things, such as talking toys, bubbles, music, 36-inch soccer balls, rubber balls, jumping, running kids, dogs, hula hoops, cones, rings, obstacles, group grooming, little people, quiet people, noisy people, ribbons, paper, jumping jacks, arm circles and applause, which is my personal favorite.
Then, there are the beaded curtains, blue tarps, wet washrags, squirt guns, flour, cones, rings, drums, flutes, tambourines, bells, drones and trash bags. With the help of the Tuesday Night Training participants, we learn the ins-and-outs of ramp loading, unbalanced riders, unpredictable riders and a variety of dismounts.
We become the best we can be for the program. We learn to trust the helpers that keep us safe and teach us tolerance for the unexpected. We are never pushed beyond our comfort zone, and confidence builds rapidly.
Graduation from Tuesday Night Training and acceptance into the Freedom Hooves work force is a big deal here. Don’t be fooled, though; the training doesn’t end there. It’s only a matter of time before someone thinks of another challenge for us to conquer.
Younger horses, best suited to the nature of our work, make great leaps and bounds, often learning in one night what would take a single trainer weeks to accomplish.
This visionary program sets Freedom Hooves a step above in therapy horse/community partnership development. Our human helpers take home valuable knowledge and great memories.
Though getting to ride is never guaranteed, no one is ever left out of the night’s activities. For many of these horse lovers, this is the only access they have to enjoying the pleasures of being near us interesting critters.
Perhaps the most important thing that happens on Tuesday is all of us working together with the satisfaction of being involved in a very important part of the process of helping others in the caring community we call home.
Tuesday Night Training begins at 5:30 p.m. April 26 at Morning Star Equestrian Facility, 900 Johnson Road. All ages are welcome, but those younger than 14 require adult supervision. Visiting horses are welcome to join for a suggested $25 donation to Freedom Hooves. Visiting horses also must have a health check within 30 days of attendance and be current on all vaccinations and dewormer.
The Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters will move to Grand Junction.