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Pete Stephenson, Volunteer of the Year!

July 23, 2013

Wood River resident and retired fire fighter, Pete Stephenson, has  volunteered hundreds of hours at the Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center over the past five years.  His hard work has enabled many adults and children with disabilities to be able to ride horses at no charge.  Not only has he helped in lessons, but he has also helped build and fix fence, cut down trees, clear trails, clean up manure, and much more.  He is truly a blessing!  We recently nominated him and he was selected the Volunteer of the Year for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), and he was selected for Region 9!  Pete will be honored at the PATH Intl. Conference in Orlando, Florida in November 2014.  Thank you for all of your hard work, dedication, and love, Pete!

“They are very giving people”

Bill and Betty Grant

The day was March 19,1999. Bill Grant and his wife Betty were in Fairfield, Idaho to provide support as their friends grieved the loss of their beloved horse. On that Sunday morning Betty had decided to go skiing at Soldier Mountain while Bill returned to their home in Hailey to catch up on some work. Later that day, Bill made a fateful decision to ski Bald Mountain as Betty and her friend drove to Bellevue to look at horses at a ranch called Swiftsure. Hours later, Betty received an urgent call that Bill had been found unconscious and bleeding on the Limelight run on Baldy, a run they seldom skied. No one had witnessed the impact. Bill was only 66 years of age and due to the extent of his injuries he was not expected to live through the night. In May, Bill transferred to the Elks rehab center in Boise where he remained until July. He was then ordered to a nursing home, however Betty brought Bill home and has been his primary caregiver for the past 14 years. Due to the left frontal lobe injury Bill never regained use of his speech. He was blinded in his right eye.

At the age of 80, Bill is the senior (Betty jokingly refers to him as the “most experienced”) rider at Sagebrush Arena and has used the facility on and off for 12 years. For the past two years, Bill has ridden every week. According to Betty, there is a difference in his mood after each session. She says,

“Riding has given him a sense of achievement, helps him with his balance and gives him more self confidence. The physical tasks and movements Bill is not able to preform, he is able to do mentally thus stimulating his brain.”

Betty Grant never dreamed that she would one day return to the ranch she visited on the life altering day of Bill’s accident fourteen years earlier. On June 19, Betty Grant returned to Swiftsure Ranch for a far different reason: This time to deliver Bill to the weekly riding sessions he enjoys so much, an outing they both look forward to.

“It is good for both of us knowing that he has outside exposure in a world of other people who understand his needs. They are very giving people.”

~ Betty Grant

“Can do”

October 8, 2012

“When I was new to the Valley and seeking out activities in which I could participate due the physical challenges of multiple sclerosis, I was fortunate to find my way to Sagebrush.  As an adult with MS, I continually struggle with a sense of loss— specifically the loss of my ability to do things from which I once got much enjoyment and satisfaction. In shifting my focus from the things I can no longer do to the things I can do, adding horseback riding to my “can do” list was very exciting.

When people ask me about my experience with therapeutic riding, I tell them it’s good for the body and even better for the soul. The physical benefits one derives from riding are many:  better balance, improved core strength, and greater flexibility. But for me, the emotional benefit is important, too. The time I spend at the ranch leaves me with an acceptance of what is and the strength to face whatever challenges lie ahead.”

“I love the feeling”

“I love the feeling that I get when I come to the barn. The attitudes of the staff and volunteers are what set the mood. I appreciate how they make me feel; so very good at riding, so accomplished.

My success in riding helps to drive and motivate me to try hard and to be the best that I can be in everything in my life. I want so badly to be better, to be able to walk without a cane, and I know that I will be able to do just that someday.

Since I started riding a year ago, I feel smoother and more confident when I walk. My horse, Trigger, is a friend who will always do a good job no matter what kind of mood I’m in.”

“He sits up straighter”

“Logan gets excited when he knows that he is going to horseback riding. It is his time, the one thing that he gets to do that his brothers don’t, and he loves it. I believe that his core has become more strengthened from riding. Logan has left side hemiparesis, and when he first started riding a year and a half ago, he didn’t walk. Now, he sits up straighter and he walks more equally, weight bearing in both legs. For a while I wanted to keep Logan sheltered, to protect him. Now I love that he has this experience, that he gets to come ride and interact with the horse and with the volunteers.”

~ Mother of Swiftsure student

“Sense of Camaraderie”

“What I enjoy most about my horseback riding sessions is the sense of camaraderie with the people on my team. The instructors and volunteers are of the highest caliber. They are thoughtful and intelligent and provide me with a feeling of confidence and comfort. People with Parkinson’s have a tendency to get depressed, so the social aspect of my lesson is the most important to me. I also find that horseback riding helps improve my balance. I have noticed that since starting to ride two years ago, I have had an easier time walking around.”

~ Therapeutic Riding Student with Parkinson’s Disease

“Her self-confidence increased”

“Our daughter Sacchika has been riding horses through the Sagebrush/Swiftsure Ranch program for 2 years now. She loved riding from her very first lesson.

In her first season of riding we clearly noticed that her self-confidence increased. I think that riding a horse gave her the sense of mastery in both her relationship and control of the horse and in her ability to command her own body. Her instructors continue to help her work on her core strength, which seems to naturally develop while riding a horse.

Sacchika loves all the instructors that she has had as well as the horses. She very much enjoys the challenging and fun games that her instructors have made for her to be able to develop among other things her hand/eye coordination, her core strength and her communication skills.

We feel very fortunate for such an amazing program and the opportunity that Sacchika has to be able to take part and grow! We are so grateful to all the volunteers and staff and kind supporters of the Swiftsure Ranch. Thank you!”

– Maria Morris, LAc
Nourishing Roots Community Acupuncture, Ketchum, Idaho