Featured in CARP Connector Magazine
We are excited to have been featured in an article about aging with horses found in the Spring 2017 edition of the Muskoka/Parry Sound CARP Connector Magazine.
BROKEN SPIRIT? TRY WORKING WITH HORSES!
WRITTEN BY KIRSTEN BOTH, R.C.M.
One thing we can learn from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is that a lifelong association with horses keeps you young both in body and spirit. Photos of the Queen with various equine companions have continued to surface over the years – even as recently as a few days ago (the Queen being just shy of her 91st birthday).
The companionship of a horse – whether you are in or out of the saddle – can yield many surprising health benefits for individuals of all ages. At Back of Beyond Equine Centre, a small horse facility near Huntsville, Ontario, the benefits of associating with horses can be observed on a daily basis. Back of Beyond is not your typical ‘riding centre’. Their students don’t ever actually compete for Blue Ribbons or even attend competitions for that matter, and their programs are not as much focused on skill development as they are on healing and learning through equine interaction. For this reason the students that frequent Back of Beyond come from all walks (and stages) of life. In fact, a large number of the students are seniors!
While it’s great to see the Queen is still able to get up on the saddle, physical limitations can often make this sort of equine interaction challenging for seniors. But as the senior students of Back of Beyond will attest, your own physical limitations do not necessarily equal an end to the health benefits that one can obtain from interacting with horses. Simply spending time with horses can help seniors to overcome anxiety and depression as well as increase their self-confidence, thereby providing them with a more stable (pun intended!) foundation from which to handle various life transitions.
Mary Kuipers began coming to Back of Beyond in 2012 after a considerable hiatus from horses. At the age of 28 Mary moved from Holland to Canada and had to leave the horse she had kept for over a decade behind. Determined to get back in the saddle, Mary recalls her first visit to see Cathy Foyston, owner of Back of Beyond with laughter, “I started with Damascus on the lunge line, scared to death.” But with the support of Cathy, Damascus, and the other students, her confidence steadily built and her appreciation for simply being with horses grew in spades. Mary now has a special bond with a spunky bay-coloured mare named Mia. On days where one or both do not feel up to a ride (aches and pains affect horses too after all!), the duo can be found walking side-by-side on the trails, grooming in a stall, or lunging in the indoor arena.
If you have not spend much time with horses in your life, the notion of starting now might seem daunting. Fortunately, horses come (as people do) in all shapes and sizes! One of the most popular members of the herd at Back of Beyond is a Shetland pony named Muffin. Her time size and sweet personality make her a wonderful first-time pony for anyone that is looking to “start small” with maybe a little grooming or groundwork. Another fun option at Back of Beyond which groups of all ages can enjoy is sleigh and wagon rides. Even if you aren’t sold on spending more one-on-one time with the horses, a ride through the beautiful trails in Muskoka led by a magnificent team of horses is a definitive one-in-a-lifetime experience.