Proud Equestrian Program Helps Children With Disabilities - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Proud Equestrian Program Helps Children With Disabilities

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A 4H program is pairing up kids with disabilities with horses.

It's called the Proud Equestrian Program (P.E.P), and the kids started camp today in Chippewa County. 

Karen Kucharczyk, therapeutic horse back riding instructor said, "The kids benefit being around the social aspect of the community getting involved the horse is the key to it all on bringing people together."

 It's a program that helps children with disabilities on their social and motor skills.

Norma Osborn, Director of P.E.P said, "Even though it's a short program we can see a change in the kids. There's something about the horse that I can't explain, it comes together. The horse understands the child has a disability and the child just interacts and it's just a really neat thing to see."

Ryan O'Connor has autism and his mom says he has come a long way since last year's lessons.

Mary O'Connor, Ryan's mom, said, "He's more confident on the horse, he's more verbal, he's learning left and right side saddle and learning all new words and able to follow directions."

Any child who has been diagnosed with a disability can participate. Therapists say it's amazing the miracles they get to watch. 

 "That's the stuff that chokes you up to see the first time saying a word. You'll see parents on the sidelines tear up because finally they said something," said  Kucharczyk


For more on the program, visit their website HERE.