Getting Special-Needs Kids Off the Waitlist and Into the Saddle!

The Cause

Hippotherapy has many proven physical, mental and emotional benefits for its students. In 2013, after seeing the enormous benefits her son Will experienced through his own hippotherapy, and wanting other special-needs children to have the same opportunity, Shelley Hilderman started WFRF.

To date, approximately 30 children have benefitted from WFRF lessons, with another 25 currently riding in our 2016 Spring session. These numbers represent only a handful of students whose families are hoping to get them a spot in our program - we currently have a waitlist of 40 children and receive inquiries from many people each week as the program gains momentum through word-of-mouth.

We are proud of the quality of instruction our CanTRA instructor provides, proud of our excellent safety record and proud to be offering a program whose benefits we have witnessed first-hand. Our goal going forward is grow steadily and safely, and be able to accommodate the kids on our ever-growing waitlist so that they too can get into the saddle and start reaping the many benefits WFRF lessons will bring them.

Who Will it Benefit?

To date, WFRF has provided hippotherapy sessions to special-needs students between 2 and 12. Our students face a wide variety of physical and mental challenges, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and ASD. Because the sessions are game-based, the students not only have fun on their ponies but also gain enormous physical, mental and emotional benefits. Their core strength, mobility, motor and verbal skills improve and of course they get to develop a friendship with their ponies!

The parents of our students also receive a very special benefit from WFRF lessons as they watch the improvements that hippotherapy brings. They have shared with us that their children take their WFRF experience into school with them (one of our students has made his pony figure prominently in his school journal!) It is clear, and most gratifying to us, that the benefits of WFRF extend into many aspects of our students’ lives.

Finally, WFRF volunteers benefit from their involvement in such a meaningful, effective program. With the exception of our CanTRA-certified instructor, our amazing volunteers, who range in age from 14 to 65, do all of the work behind WFRF. They schedule volunteers, organize our fundraising, and generally run the business of the Society. They catch, groom and tack up each pony for lessons. During the lessons, 2-3 volunteers work with each student, leading and side-walking. They keep the barn clean and organized. These volunteers contribute many hours of their own time because they believe in the benefits of hippotherapy and it brings great meaning to them to be able to participate in the children’s excitement and growth.