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March 07, 2013 05:00 PM

Aberdeen Center Uses Horses To Help People With Disabilities

Aberdeen, SD

Growing up with a disability has its challenges and sometimes help can come along on four legs rather than two.

That's happening at a therapeutic center in Aberdeen. Sometimes all it takes is a friend to get through a tough time. Heather Westby has found just that in a horse she's come to love.

"As I was watching her warm up with one of the volunteers on her, she stopped at the window and looked at me and wouldn't move," Westby said.

That horse is one of several at SPURS Therapeutic Riding Center in Aberdeen. The center serves people with a variety of disabilities.

Denis Heidenreich struggles walking and relies on therapy through horses to improve balance.

"It helps me with my back and keeping up straight and stuff like that," Heidenreich said.

SPURS has been around for 20 years. Instructors teach riding classes at different levels. Sometimes physical therapists will come with patients. Other times parents will come with kids.

SPURS serves about 120 people in a given year. It relies on a lot of help to do so.

Donors keep the doors open. Riders pay a fee but not much compared to the cost of operating the place. That's just part of the help.

"We rely heavily on volunteers,” program director Mary Lund said. “They don't have to have a lot of horse background; they just have to care about other people."

And they become friends with the many riders who come through SPURS in a given year, just as the horses do. Blaine Jemming has only been riding a couple years.

"I like to trot," Jemming said.

He intends to ride for many more. SPURS plans to offer this type of therapy to people with different kinds of disabilities for years to come as well.

  • News
  • General
  • Aberdeen, SD
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