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Therapeutic program needs horses, saddles

By Linda Breazeale
MSU Ag Communications

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University’s Extension Service is seeking donations of adult-sized saddles and two additional safe, gentle horses for therapeutic riding sessions.

The MSU Extension Service’s 4-H Therapeutic Riding and Activity Center, or TRAC, promotes therapeutic riding through educational and research-based activities. Therapy horses must be in good health, have a current negative Coggins test, and be people friendly and extremely calm. English and western saddles are also needed for the program.

“We need sturdy, quarter-horse-type animals that stand no more than 15 hands tall,” said Mary Shannon, TRAC instructor and program coordinator. “The horses need to be no older than 15 years, well broken and must handle well at a walk, trot and canter.”

Shannon said horses in the program find a mutually beneficial home.

“The horses are loved on and petted by the TRAC volunteers, riders, family members and Extension staff. Our horses enable their riders to become stronger and more independent in mind, body and spirit. They spend their off days in their grass-filled pasture enjoying a life of leisure,” Shannon said. “Their health care is closely supervised, and they are kept fit by the TRAC staff, volunteers and MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.”

Before being accepted into the program, the horses undergo a trial period where they are introduced to wheelchairs, ramps, balls and other therapy tools used in the program. Anyone who has a horse or saddle they would be interested in donating should contact Shannon at (662) 325-3350 or marys@ext.msstate.edu.

The program has earned accreditation through the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. The TRAC program is located in West Point on property donated by Jimmy Bryan and in the 4-H Elizabeth A. Howard arena, donated by Tommy and Brenda Howard.

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Released: Jan.10, 2013
Contact: Mary Shannon, (662) 325-3350