Horse show in Oak Ridge therapeutic for 35 riders

Sunday, June 21, 2009
Monica Asmus rides Red in the costume class event Saturday during the second annual horse show sponsored by Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship. (Fred Lynch)

Before she began riding horses at Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship pastureland off Route D in Oak Ridge, Monica Asmus of Jackson was afraid of the animals.

Three years later, the 7-year-old has overcome her fear of horses thanks in part to lessons she has taken at the organization.

Monica showed off her riding skills on the horse Red during a costume class at a horse show sponsored by Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship. Diagnosed with a developmental delay, Asmus was assisted by three volunteers who traveled alongside her.

"This organization is beneficial to the children in so many ways, including improving their social skills," said Lisa Asmus, her mother who attended the event with four other family members. "The horses seem big and intimidating at first, but once they get used to them, it helps them out in so many ways. This show allows the kids to show off what they learned and lets the community see what a program this is."

In its second year, the horse show featured 35 of the organization's disabled riders, whose ages ranged from 4 to 60. The show included a exhibitions, such as a flag relay, and several guided horse trots. Riders came from as far away as Poplar Bluff, Mo., Ste. Genevieve, Mo., and Perryville, Mo. Their disabilities included cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and autism.

Logan Wibbenmeyer is assisted while getting onto Siri for the costume class event Saturday during the second annual horse show sponsored by Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship. (Fred Lynch)

Margie Farrow, an instructor and secretary of the board at Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship, said the horse show was started to showcase the improvement the riders have made throughout the year. Since 2001, the organization that serves special-needs children and adults in Southeast Missouri through the horse show, lessons and other events.

"So many people are hungry for what we offer," Farrow said. "Time after time we're finding that therapy riding helps out so many kids who have disabilities."

A recent study by George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., found that children with special needs who rode horses for six weeks improved their strength. Twelve weeks later the same children rode the horses for the same period of time, with their strength improving even more.

"That shows the impact therapy riding has on those and other children," Farrow said. "A big part of that success has to do with the volunteers and community support we've received."

For more information about Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship, visit semohorsetherapy.org or call 788-2100.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

Pertinent address:

192 Hope Hill, Oak Ridge, MO

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