Farm hosts horse show to benefit therapy program
ROCHEPORT – Horse riders and family members of all ages gathered at Sunny Oak Farm on Saturday for a weekend horse show.
The show began on Saturday, but proceeds from events on Sunday will benefit Sunny Oak Equine Assisted Activities, a therapy program started by farm owner Rosy Erganian. She is a retired preschool and special needs teacher who began the therapy program about four or five years ago.
“It’s just a wonderful way to help disabled people,” Erganian said.
She said it is the animal and human connection that helps the healing process.
“[The horses] kind of tune into the riders and I think they sometimes know that these riders are a little bit special,” she said.
Hannah Lefler has been riding for about thirteen years, and got her start at Sunny Oak Farm. She said she agrees that the horses help people who need therapy, because even as a rider without disabilities she feels a connection between her and her horse, Winston.
“I have been riding [Winston] for about six months,” Lefler said. “I can tell how much more he respects me.”
Lefler said she likes to think of him as the worker and she as his boss.
“I like to think he respects me in that way, and I guess in like a friendship way too,” she said.
Because of this connection, Erganian said she also hopes to start up an equine facilitated psychotherapy program in the near future.
“The clients have more mental and emotional problems and we do more unmounted activities,” she said. “What you’re really using is that horse’s sensitivity to people’s feelings to help the people process feelings and mental blocks that they have that they are not going to be able to solve in that normal counseling situation.”
Erganian said she has applied for a grant and hopes to begin the psychotherapy program in the fall.
The horse show on Sunday will begin at 8 a.m. and run until about 4:30 p.m.