Vermont-News-Archive

Vermont News December 2011

Dianne Lashoones wanted to let us know that Rhythm of the Rein program at Water Tower Farm in Marshfield, VT recently passed PATH Intl. reaccreditation! Congratulations!
 
Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center program in Newfane, VT, where Lorna Young is the Program Manager, passed their first PATH International accreditation this year as well! Congratulations!

Vermont State Meeting

The PATH Intl Region 1 Vermont State Meeting was held on October 2nd from 9:00 am - 4:00pm at Good Hope Farm in South Hero, VT. The CHAMP staff (Jean Desranleau, Executive Director, Sue Tebbetts, Volunteer Coordinator, and Julie Horrigan, Instructor) hosted the event with preparation assistance from their hearty volunteers and Vermont State Chair, Kristin Mason.

Despite having a lower attendance than we first expected (14 folks in attendance, including our 4 guest presenters) due to having to reschedule after hurricane Irene hit Vermont and surrounding states in August, the meeting was packed with educational information and plenty of networking opportunities.

Presentations included: Equine Feeds & Feeding (Mary Jo Hanbury - Blue Seal Feeds); Equine Worming Demystified (Dr. Kathy Murphy, DVM); Special Olympics (Julie Horrigan - CHAMP); Tramatic Brain Injuries (Mary Willmuth, PhD, ABPP); Equine Bodywork (Carmel Stone, Reiki Master) and Instructor Advancement (Kristin Mason, PATH Intl Advanced Instructor/Mentor).

The actual Vermont State business Meeting commenced at 11:50am and included PATH Intl committee updates and networking discussions including, but not limited to: Special Olympics (contact Julie Horrigan This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more info on discussion), Horses for Heroes (contact Libby Hale This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more info on discussion), the VHAT program for riders that need funding for participation at ANY center (grants available - contact Susan Mitchell This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more info on discussion) and Farm-Based Education Association (contact Kristin Mason This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more info on discussion).

All attendees were also reminded of the Region 1 Conference to be held in Brattleboro, VT and at SVTRC in Newfane, VT on April 20-22, 2012 and to keep an eye out for updates and call for papers pertaining to this conference.

The Vermont State business Meeting adjourned at 12:40 p.m., and attendees continued informal networking while finishing lunch before the presentations resumed at 1 p.m.

Update: Vermont Horse-Assisted Therapy, Inc.

We at Vermont Horse-Assisted Therapy Inc. (VHAT) in Middlesex, VT, have just completed our second eight-week after-school program; one was for eight students on the autism spectrum and another was open to all special needs students. Here are the reports on both programs.

FINAL REPORT: SECOND AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM For STUDENTS ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM

April 25—June 13, 2011 held at PEASE FARM STABLE, MIDDLESEX, VT

The second year of this innovative after-school riding program was designed to develop on our work from the 2010 pilot program. We expanded from six to eight weeks in duration, and offered the two-hour program to eight rather than six students on a first-come, first-serve basis. We charged each family $40 to cover snacks and student awards. Our lead sponsors for 2011, The Larson Fund and the C & S Harvest Foundation, with help from the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council (VDDC), paid the salaries of the lead PATH registered teacher, an assistant instructor for each student, a videographer to tape each week’s progress, and the rental of the arena and horses for two hours per week. The total cost of the spring program was $5,000.  

Our routine began in the arena, where we raced from letter to letter, identifying each letter and then an activity that started with that letter. “It’s “B”—what shall we do? Let’s Bounce!” Skylar, Jesse and Kobe adored this game and were extremely creative in their responses. We did “relay races” to one end of the arena to identify and bring back the grooming tools used for the horses. And we sang the ever-popular farm song that included a series of pantomimed physical activities. “What do we do on the farm? What do we do on the farm? WALK the horses, walk the horses, WALK the horses, walk the horses, that’s what we do on the farm.” (PICK rocks, TROT the horses, HAUL buckets, etc).

We would demonstrate and enact the activities we planned to do that day with the student paired with the instructor as a “pretend” horse. Then we would break into teams to catch, groom, saddle and mount the real horses. If the weather was nice, half the students practiced in the outdoor arena and half stayed in the indoor. We went on a mini “trail ride” through the pastures for one lesson; the uneven terrain requires students to balance and rebalance continually and they thoroughly enjoyed it. In the lessons, they learned two balance positions, and practiced trotting and turning, halting and completing an obstacle course while being led by the instructor.

An important component of this program is the element of required work or “chores”. After we unsaddled and put the horses away, each team had to complete a 15-minute chore before coming to the arena for a snack and closing circle. We picked rocks in the paddocks, we raked the arena, we swept the barn aisle, we sorted and reorganized the grooming boxes, we hauled water and/or hay bales, and yes, we shoveled manure. Josh’s favorite part of the program was working. He shone and smiled when accomplishing his tasks, even hauling heavy cavalletti poles back to the storage area, and we used work as his reward for completing his riding tasks.  Students and teachers shared juice, fruit and a carefully chosen snack (several were on special restricted diets) and answered a weekly question, usually about what they had noticed, learned or liked that day.

Tommy’s teacher wrote: “He showed much more interest in the other kids by the end of the eight weeks. He learned some of the names, and would say things like “Arthur is here today,” or “Sam is sick,” and “Josh is sad.” I really was proud that he was observing and even talking to the other kids. It was something he never did in previous years, and it got better throughout the weeks. He also sat in circle instead of by himself.” Josh’s teacher said he benefited from having the same routine each week. "He stayed on the horse, he said his “thank yous” clearly but still needed frequent reminders to complete group activities." Arthur had a serious family crisis and was often moody, whiney and acting out. We finally initiated a strict policy of “silence or positive comments only” and he was rewarded with a favorite toy or activity when he complied. I was ecstatic one week when he self-initiated a correction from a negative to a positive comment!

Skylar’s teacher noted: “Sky’s eagerness to demonstrate mastery undermined his focus on fine motor skills. “ After eight weeks of practicing these skills, she said his riding ability and his focus had improved dramatically. Jesse had never ridden before he came to the program. His teacher said, “He is the type of kid who is always energetic and happy…although he sometimes goes along with whatever you say because he isn’t listening. I had to watch how enthusiastic I got about things because once you get him started it gets difficult to settle him down again.” Two students missed three sessions due to illness or family difficulties.

Julian and Joey were our most challenging students. Both do not use language willingly and we never found a way to consistently engage Joey’s attention unless he was on the horse, when he would smile and show excellent balance. Julian made significant improvement. He is hyper-sensitive and even with earphones, often could not stand the auditory stimulation of the group. Our adult teacher used visual schedules, kinesthetic learning techniques and visual rather than verbal cues to improve his sequencing skills.  

A video that shows each week’s activities is available on request. Our little horse show on the final day was attended by the public, VHAT Board members, local educators and, of course, proud parents. Students showed off their activities and received handmade ribbons for skills like “Bravery”, “Most Improved Rider”, and “Balanced Rider”. Detailed individual reports from each instructor or aide about her student are also available on request.

We are so excited about the measurable progress we saw. Once again, we were able to engage these students, for whom social contact is such a mystery, as a group. Maybe not all the time, maybe not all of them, and maybe not without difficulty, but with increasing skill as the class went on.  I hope this report gives you a glimpse of our dedication to these students and our delight in their accomplishments. VHAT is creating effective and challenging, but safe and highly supervised, ways to use horses to help students with special needs improve their social skills, increase their verbal interactions, and work as a team in a challenging physical activity.             

FINAL REPORT: THIRD AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM For STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Sept. 19—Nov. 7, 2011 held at PEASE FARM STABLE, MIDDLESEX, VT
 
The fall after-school riding program was eight weeks in duration, and the two-hour program was offered to eight students on a first-come, first-serve basis. We charged each family $40 to cover snacks and student awards. Our lead sponsors for 2011, The Larson Fund and the C & S Harvest Foundation, with help from the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council (VDDC) and many generous private donors, paid the salaries of the lead teacher, a teacher or an aide for each student, a videographer who took photos on three separate occasions and the rental of the arena for two hours per week. The total cost of the fall program was $5,000.

Unlike the spring program solely for students with autism, the fall program included students with a wider range of disabilities. In addition to four returning students with autism (18-year-old Joey, 11-year-old Arthur , 11-year-old Jesse and 8 year-old Josh), new students included Arthur’s younger brother Joseph, 7, Dan, 15, Nicholas, 14, and Brandon, 7. These students had challenges ranging from oppositional-defiant disorder, low muscle tone and severe childhood trauma.

Two adults were PATH certified instructors, two others were experienced instructors with other certifications; we also used two adult volunteers experienced with horses. The most unexpected benefit of the program was using five teens-at-risk as our teacher aides.  These teens did have experience with horses, but one teen was clinically depressed, another had serious learning disabilities, three had significant economic hardships. The bond these girls formed, and the way in which they taught each other to serve as role models for students with even more significant challenges, was transformative for everyone involved. The social interaction among the students themselves was much greater than during the spring. When Dan had a personal crisis midway through the program, several other students expressed disappointment and concern, and we made a card to send him at his temporary residential placement.

Students begin with group singing and physical warm-ups in the arena, and we model activities with human partners that they will do later on horseback. This session we included art as part of the program—students did rubbings using common barn tools, painted using horse brushes, and worked together on a mural that they painted while on horseback. This utilized gross and fine motor skills effectively, and watching the horses react to unfamiliar objects was a valuable learning experience to illustrate that we each react to new things in different ways. We went on a mini “trail ride” through the pastures; the uneven terrain requires students to balance and rebalance continually and they thoroughly enjoyed it. They catch, groom and saddle their horses, and during the mounted lessons, they learned two balance positions, and practiced trotting and turning, halting and completing an obstacle course while being led by the instructor.

The required work component remains a crucial element of this program. After they unsaddled and put the horses away, each team had to complete a 15-minute chore before coming to the arena for a snack and closing circle. Some students loved these tasks; some. Some resisted fiercely. But everyone, including staff, had to get their assigned chores done before sharing juice, fruit and a carefully chosen snack.

Some comments from the final reports of the instructors and aides:

“It is so nice for Joey to be in a safe place where he can just move freely.”

“It has been a great experience for me and for Jesse. Trust is a big issue and I think we both accomplished that and we both made a friend.”

 “Brandon suffered a significant personal loss during the program, but his resilient nature shone through when he presented at the final demonstration. He was eager to exhibit his progress to his family, teacher, and friends. He had gone from despair the week before, to telling me, “all those people who came to see me love me”. And then he hugged his horse.”

From the teen aides: “I love the fact that I am able to help someone else feel good about themselves (sic). This makes my life better.”

“The farm is a place where I can be myself.”

“I love being here and working with the kids; these are My Mondays, as much for me as for them.”

“I liked being able to show someone how to put on an English saddle and I liked being the to-go person who could help in different ways.”

A slideshow of the students’ progress is available by request, as are complete reports from each instructor or aide.  All of the students and all of the aides have asked to return in 2012. We are working to raise enough funds to provide some specialized training to the teens-at-risk before the special needs students’ lessons begin. We would also like to offer some of the students lessons after the regular session ends to compare the benefit of a program of longer duration.  Funding to complete our sensory trail has been requested; this will further engage the students’ touch/smell/sound/sight senses in fun ways like reaching for items from a mailbox, “playing” notes by hitting a foam paddle against hollow tubes, or walking over a hollow bridge to hear the horses’ footfalls.

I hope this report gives you a glimpse of our dedication to these students and our delight in their accomplishments. VHAT is creating effective and challenging, but safe and highly supervised, ways to use horses to help students with special needs improve their social skills, increase their verbal interactions, and work as a team in a challenging physical activity.

Sarah Seidman, Acting Director, VHAT

Vermont State Meeting

Attention all Vermont and neighboring states/Canada PATH Intl. members as well as interested parties/students in the medical, educational, equine assisted activities/therapies and veterinary fields - Come to the PATH Intl. Region 1 Vermont State Meeting!

Where: CHAMP at Good Hope Farm
57 East Shore Road
South Hero, VT 05846
Barn Phone: (802) 372-4087

When: Sunday, October 2, 2011 (NOTE: This is a new date. The original date was postponed due to Hurricane Irene)

Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Fee: $10 per person

Click here to download a flyer and registration form. Deadline for registration: September 20, 2011.

Click here to download the schedule for the meeting.

Contact info:

Jean Desranleau - Tel: 802-372-4087; Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Julie Horrigan - Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Kristin Mason - Tel: 802-487-4156; Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For more information and directions to CHAMP, visit their website at www.vtchamp.org.

Happy Spring 2011 to PATH Intl. Members and Centers of Vermont and the Province of Quebec, Canada!

The 2011 PATH Intl. Region 1 Vermont State (including the Province of Quebec, Canada!) Meeting will be held at CHAMP in South Hero, Vermont. Date and time TBD - will keep you all posted! I will be meeting with the CHAMP program management after the Region 1 Conference and will have more details then.

If you have ideas for educational topics and/or speakers you would like to see at the 2011 Vermont State Meeting, please forward your ideas/speaker contact information (and their topic/expertise) to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ">Kristin Mason BEFORE May 1st so that I may share your ideas with the CHAMP staff at our initial meeting.

I know that many of our PATH Intl. Centers and Members in Vermont and Canada are doing fantastic things and we would like to share your successes and stories! We also want to be able to connect with our new Members and Centers in Vermont and Canada!

So, I invite you to send me your stories, Center and Member happenings, growth and development ideas, challenges, etc., so that we can connect with existing, new and former Members and Centers through our Region 1 News......you may email information to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ">Kristin Mason, Vermont State Chair, OR, if you do not have a computer, you may mail your information to share in the Region 1 News to me at:

Kristin Mason
PATH Intl. Region 1 VT State Chair
PO Box 146
Morgan, VT 05853

Thank you for all that you do for others and our equine partners!

winter-horsesHappy New Year Vermont PATH Intl. Centers & Members!

Greetings from your State Chair, Kristin Mason –

We had a fabulous VT/NH combined State Meeting in August 2010 with nearly 40 people in attendance. Lorna Young and the Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center at Winchester Stables in Newfane, VT were our gracious hosts.

Plans are in the works for the 2011 Vermont State Meeting and we are in hopes that CHAMP in South Hero, VT will be the hosts for this event as per our discussion at the 2010 meeting - it has been some time since we all gathered in the northwest part of Vermont! I will be in contact with the folks at CHAMP in the next couple months to see when the best time would be for them and confirm our schedule. Stay tuned!

As the Vermont State Chair, I would also like the opportunity to come and visit your Centers and/or stables in 2011. This will give me a chance to have a visual of your locations and learn more about what your programs have to offer, as well as an opportunity for you to pick my brain about PATH Intl. committees and events, Region 1 and Vermont activities, program or membership information and how I can better serve YOU!

As I make my statewide travels, I would also like to share an opportunity for Vermont PATH Intl. Centers to participate in an informational/educational article about equine assisted activities and therapies available throughout our state that I am currently working on. This is an opportunity for you to share what your program offers, pictures of your facility and how to contact you for more information, as well as help to educate the public about PATH Intl. and EAAT!

meadow-horsesIf you would like a visit from me in 2011, please contact me by no later than April 1st  at email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   or you may also call me at 802-487-4156 to schedule a visit at your convenience.

 

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