Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding: Therapeutic Riding, Inc.

Each Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse industry. Today, we’re recognizing Therapeutic Riding, Inc. of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

All photos courtesy of TRI.

Therapeutic Riding, Inc. (TRI) is a therapeutic horseback riding program based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We spoke with program director and head instructor at TRI, Jan Vescelius.

TRI’s mission is to provide a therapeutic environment through horseback riding and other activities for people with disabilities or other challenges. TRI is a 501(c)3 non- profit organization.

How did you get started with TRI?

I had been a professional horsewoman for many years, owning my own hunter/jumper farm when I heard about this “new” kind of program that had been introduced into the USA by Lida McGowan. I was intrigued by the thought that I could take what I know and love about horses and assist people who otherwise could not have the experience that was/is so much a part of my life. Not only is it fun but it is good for all people physically, cognitively, behaviorally, and socially. I was “in” and a group of us started Lenawee Therapeutic Riding, in my home county. It was a few years later that I joined TRI in Ann Arbor. I am still with both programs.

What populations are you serving?

TRI serves all people with all disabilities/special needs: a person must be a minimum of 4 years of age, and they must be safe to ride as determined by their physician, our evaluation, and PATH Intl. rules and standards. We do not ask anyone to leave our program unless they become unsafe to ride for any reason. We have people from age 4 – 80’s in age! Some people who may become unsafe to ride may be offered ground lessons (equine assisted activities) so that they can learn about the care, feeding, grooming, tack, and all the other things that can be learned about horses.

How are you funded?

We do not receive any state or federal dollars. Therefore, we are always writing for support to foundations, service clubs, individuals, and planning our two current fundraisers. In September we hold our annual Boots, Brew, and BBQ party at TRI, turning our entire facility into a fun evening of dance, food, and fun.

Our other annual fundraiser is TRI-FECTA – this is driven by our volunteers and riders and goes directly to the support of our horses. Everyone goes out to ask for “bets” on their favorite horse, and that winning horse receives a day at the spa! The biggest collectors of “bets” win very cool prizes, plus the knowledge that they have helped care for our animals. We have many generous, loyal donors who see the amazing benefits that our horses provide to our riders.

What is the one thing you wish people know about the work you are doing?

I want people to know that we teach people horsemanship, period. No matter what you come to us for, we teach everyone how to ride and handle horses correctly. No matter what your diagnosis, whatever your ABILITIES are, we will maximize them to teach you how to be a proper horseman. Plus, we have fun doing it! We call ourselves the best kept secret; unless you have someone close to you with a disability, you have never heard of us. That’s why what Horse Nation is doing with this article is so important and I thank you all from the TRI family.

To lean more about Therapeutic Riding Inc., please visit the organization’s website and follow on Facebook.

Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.

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