Kileigh Palmer, a student at Possum Elementary, gives her horse a pet after dismounting at the Yellow Springs Riding Center Thursday. Bill Lackey/Staff

Horseback riding teaches skills, fun to Springfield students

The neighing of horses and the stomping of hoofs could be heard at the Riding Centre in Yellow Springs as Clark County students participated in a therapeutic field trip this week.

Members of the special needs program at Possum Elementary School rode horses and played near barns on the 60-acre property during their fourth field trip this year to the center, which is sponsored by the Springfield Rotary Club.

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The trip is designed to provide students with physical and emotional therapy, according to special needs Instructor Kate Johnson.

“We get to work on following directions and as well as core strengthening,” she said.

Johnson received a grant from Rotary to take her students to the riding center twice in the fall and twice in the spring. The field trip has been provided to students every year since she started working at Possum six years ago.

“We marked it on our calendar and we had been counting down the days to our horseback riding trip,” she said.

Springfield Rotary has been working with the riding center since 1998 and has been providing grants to special needs educators since 2002.

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Students are taught safety skills and are acquainted with the animals before riding them.

Therapeutic horseback riding provides students with a positive experience, said Carolyn Bailey, head instructor for the riding center, while also strengthening their muscles.

“They are getting physical therapy without feeling that they are in a physical therapy room,” she said.

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