Back in the Saddle: Finding Confidence Through Horseback Riding
BY JOHN CAMERA PORT JERVISPUBLISHED 4:55 PM ET NOV. 01, 2020
Every Sunday, Logan Reggio and her family make the trip to Port Jervis. There, Logan gets to do one of her favorite things: tend to, and ride, horses.
What You Need To Know
Laurie Bryceland founded Victory Hill in June, after previously working at a equine therapy center in Pennsylvania
It specializes in treating both differently abled people and veterans through therapeutic horseback riding
Bryceland says that differently abled people gain confidence and develop their social skills by working with the animals
“It’s really fun, I have fun doing it, and I recommend it to the little ones,” Logan said.
Logan has cognitive and physical disabilities, and being able to work with these animals gives her a chance to both de-stress and develop social cues.
“Our job is to really prepare them to live independently one day. So we just provide them with all different types of therapy; physical therapy, speech therapy, social skills, the list goes on and on. And they don’t even know we’re doing it because they just think they’re here to work with horses and ride horses and we just kind of sneak it in there,” said Laurie Bryceland, founder and president of Victory Hill Therapeutic Horsemanship.
Bryceland worked at a different horse therapy center in Pennsylvania, but the center experienced financial issues due to COVID-19 and her position was eliminated.
Not wanting to stop doing this work to help differently abled people, as well as veterans, Bryceland found a silver lining to all this.
“Having my own center? I knew it was something I always wanted to do, but I loved my previous job so much at a different center, that I couldn’t imagine leaving there. So once I had no choice and had to leave that program…the door just opened for me to start my own program. So, very, very excited to be doing that,” said Bryceland.
Logan and 14 others come to Victory Hill throughout the week to learn how to take care of the horses. And after they’ve brushed them down comes the fun part: taking them out to the obstacle course. There, they put what they’ve learned about these animals to the test, controlling them around barrels and traffic cones.
And after about a half hour of riding, they dismount, feeling relaxed but also excited about what they’ve accomplished.
“Any child or adult with special needs, it makes a huge difference in their life. I think it builds confidence and they feel independent. I’ve seen a huge growth in Logan’s independence, working with the horses,” said Lauren Reggio, Logan’s mom.
And her daughter agrees.
“It feels good, it brings back memories.”