ROCKFORD, Mich. (WZZM)- This week's Taste of My Town segment takes us to Rockford, where healing is all in the horses!
Changes are not uncommon at the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding. Opening in 1990, the center has grown from 7 acres to 34; and it's recently gotten a major facelift inside and out. Starting with only 16 riders, Equest now serves anywhere from 120 to 160 riders each week, and that doesn't include the 75 on the center's waiting list.
John Agar, 19, is one of the many riders at Equest. John has cerebral palsy and has been receiving horse-guided therapy sessions since he was four.
Equest serves clients with a wide range of disabilities, and tailors each therapy plan to the client. Clients with cerebral palsy make up 14% of those at Equest, but the center treats everything anything from eating disorders to dementia to cancer.
The newest addition will come in October. It is the new sensory trail, tailored to those with sensory dysfunction. The trail will offer obstacles and activities that promote learning and sensory stimulation. Some of the features include the Click Clack Bridge, which amplifies the sound of the horse's hooves; the Wild Maze; and the Stop Steer and Park, an area where riders will learn the ways of the road atop a trusty horse.
Grand Rapids-based Baudville is making the sensory trail happen. The company is celebrating its 30 years in business by donating the time, energy, and funds for the project's completion. Baudville employees were on site, working when WZZM 13 visited.
With the new sensory trail just months from completion, Equest is looking for volunteers. Familiarity with horses is not necessary, as volunteers are needed throughout the facility working the front desk, helping with upkeep, and serving as an extra set of hands in therapy sessions. Volunteering at Equest is a great way to fulfill high school volunteering requirements.
Equest is also looking for more therapy horses. This is a great video looking at what the requirements are.
None of the recent upgrades would have been possible without the hard work of Equest's loyal volunteers and the support of the community. Equest's on-going Capital Campaign has allowed upgrades to continue, but it also keeps costs down for the riders. A 30-minute session can cost as little at $15.
If you are interested in getting involved, there is a volunteer orientation on August 22nd at 6 p.m. It takes place at Equest, located at 3777 Rector Avenue in Rockford.