‘Horsing Around’ at Friendship Circle Day Camp

Every Monday this summer, a trailer rumbled up the driveway of our West Bloomfield campus, delivering some tried and true special friends to Friendship Circle Day Camp. Peanut and Bailey, two tame and tolerant horses, joined us each week to provide our students with a unique experience.

“We have a couple of kids who spent the first three Mondays working up the courage to get on the horse. When they did, they were pretty proud of themselves,” says Catie Quinn, Friendship Circle’s camp director and program manager. “It helps some of our children get over their fear with animals. It helps them build confidence; it’s such a great feeling to be up high on a horse and to work with an animal.”

The horses come to Friendship Circle courtesy of Sandy Simmons, a private horse owner who brings along feedbags, hay, water and a practice saddle for the kids who need it.

The students get to brush and pet the horses and ride them along the wooded access trail on our property, with help from six to eight volunteers. Each ride lasts about 20 – 30 minutes.

Jaden, 10, and Cameron, 9, are two of our most confident and enthusiastic riders.

“They just love the horses and they get super excited about it,” says Quinn.

Research shows that riding horses can bring cognitive, physical, emotional and social benefits to people with special needs. Scientific research continues to expand our knowledge of equine sentience — their extraordinary abilities of perception, cogntion, memory and even emotions, notes the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.

Horses are the most popularly used animal for therapy because they have the ability to respond immediately and provide feedback to the rider’s actions, and they can mirror the rider’s emotions, according to the website Equestrian Therapy.

This is the third summer we’ve offered horseback riding at our camp, which serves 23 children ages 5 – 13. We are grateful to Sandy for bringing Peanut and Bailey to camp each week, and we know it meant a lot to our kids.

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