A William Woods University student says she has found a place to “relax, have fun, be around animals and kids and clear your mind of school.”
Sally Brandom of Parkville, Mo., volunteers at the Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center teaching handicapped children how to ride horses.
A junior special education major with an equestrian science minor, Brandom has been helping out at the center in Columbia six hours a week for the past seven months.
Last fall she trained disabled riders for the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association competitions. She also helped two riders make it to the American Royal competition in Kansas City.
“I assisted with everything from cleaning stalls, loading/unloading tack, feeding, grooming, tacking/untacking horses, and training both riders and horses.”
Brandom also had to adapt the equipment to fit the disabilities of the riders. One she works with is a paraplegic with limited movement in her right arm. Another rider suffers from Spino Bifida and cannot walk without braces.
Besides training, she also volunteers twice a week during regular therapy classes.
“For many of the riders at Cedar Creek, getting to ride a horse is the highlight of their life,” she said.
Brandom said the riders provide her motivation to volunteer.
“The first time you volunteer at Cedar Creek you not only see the smiles on the riders’ faces, but also the difference you are making in their lives,” she said.
“Knowing that you brought that smile to their face is such an incredible feeling,” said Brandom. “Knowing you made a difference in their life is more rewarding than anything money could buy.”
Self-fulfillment may be enough incentive for Brandom, but Cedar Creek wanted her to know just how much she was appreciated. They rewarded her with the Angel Award, which is given to a volunteer who dedicates many hours to the center and exerts effort into everything they do.
Brandom highly recommends the therapeutic riding center as a place to volunteer.
“Anyone can volunteer at Cedar Creek. Some of the volunteers used to be riders there. There are volunteers of all ages, from 8 to 80 years old.”
She is trying to recruit other WWU students to join her.
Cedar Creek is always looking for more volunteers, especially volunteers with horsemanship experience. I would really like to see William Woods riders coming out and helping. With their knowledge and experience, the riders at Cedar Creek could really learn a lot from them.”
Brandom intends to put her experience to good use in the future.
“Although I am studying to be a special education teacher, I would eventually like to open a therapeutic riding center of my own,” she said.
Sally Brandom with Mike, a belgiun horse, who is one of the many therapy horses at Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center.