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MSU will host equine therapy certification
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As therapeutic riding programs catch on across the state, Mississippi State University is planning to host a national training workshop for instructors and volunteers interested in improving their skills.
The MSU Extension Service's 4-H therapeutic riding program will host a national workshop July 30 through Aug. 1 for up to 40 people. The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association's national certification workshop for registered therapeutic riding instructors will take place at the Mississippi Horse Park. Space in the national certification workshop is limited to 10 people. NARHA offers three levels of certification: registered, advanced and master.
Mary Riley, coordinator for Mississippi State's 4-H TEAM, or Therapeutic Equine Activity Member, said this is the first national certification opportunity held in Mississippi.
"Involvement in NARHA fosters safe, professional and ethical therapeutic equine activities through education, communication, standards, and research for people with and without disabilities," said Riley, who holds an advanced certification.
"Registered instructors demonstrate sufficient knowledge in horsemanship and riding skills," she said. "They also must be able to structure a safe, meaningful lesson for riders with and without disabilities, and be able to provide feedback appropriate to the cognitive and physical abilities of each student."
Some of the requirements for taking part in a certification program include that individuals are 18 years of age or older, are current NARHA individual members, have 25 recorded hours of practice teaching under the supervision of an NARHA certified instructor and have current first-aid certification cards.
Karen Cates is the Mississippi NARHA chairperson and program director for Heart's Desire Therapeutic Riding Center, a program in its third year in Tate County. She said the rewards of therapeutic riding are enormous for instructors and riders.
"Nothing can replace the reward I receive from seeing the physical, mental and spiritual improvement in the clients," Cates said. "A lot of our volunteers also receive therapeutic benefits from the emotional rewards of helping others."
Volunteers gain skills and confidence by taking part in advanced training in therapeutic riding. Registered instructors gain significantly by taking part in the national certification workshop, which Cates described as therapeutic riding boot camp.
"The workshop is packed full of information on disabilities, horse care and everything an instructor would need to know," Cates said. "It is taught by NARHA's most qualified instructors. Participants receive more than just the course material; they learn from personal insights of the experienced trainers, but the certification process is more grueling."
The workshop is ideal for individuals wanting to learn about equine therapy activities. For more information on NARHA certification, visit the official Web site at http://www.narha.org.
For more information on the MSU program or on therapeutic riding, contact Mary Riley at (662) 325-3350 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.