For over 35 years Central Kentucky Riding For Hope has operated out of the Kentucky Horse Park, graduating from an old tobacco barn to its current full-service facility. Under its umbrella of horse therapy CKRH serves an enormous slice of the Central Kentucky area with a multitude of options. WUKY's Samantha Lederman recently spent an afternoon there to learn more.
Ruthie is taking her weekly lesson in the indoor arena; she’s one of more than 465 participants of all ages who’s taken advantage of CKRH this last year alone
“My first lesson horse was a horse named Fox…in the english chair-riding class”
Ruthie has been coming to CKRH since 2010 but riding a lot longer
“I’ve actually been horse-riding since I was 3…too small to be sitting in there by myself”
CKRH held almost 3200 therapeutic sessions in 2015 alone, and as Executive Director Pat Kline explains, these encompass a wide range of issues
Shane Adams volunteers here now but that’s exactly how he started and now combines barn chores with his lessons….
Likewise, instructor Jennie taught able-bodied riding for about 20 years before volunteering at CKRH. After a year she became PATH certified (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) and joined the staff full-time.
Jennie notices differences between teaching able-bodied students to ride, and working with her clients at CKRH…
Each year more than 700 volunteers log up to 11,000 hours, whether that be helping with lessons, barn chores, or one of several fundraisers. This year CKRH has been chosen as the official charity of the Rolex Kentucky Three Day event.
CKRH derives about 15% of it’s total funding from program revenue - the rest comes from community donations, grants and fund-raising.
Kline shows me a photo of a young girl, perhaps 3 or 4 years old, on a horse at CKRH. That girl is now a young woman in her twenties and still attends regularly, and still has two of the same volunteers in her lesson every time.
The relationship that develops between horse and participant is equally strong.
The common denominator in each and every varied therapy provided at CKRH is the horse, and there are 27 permanent equine residents; their care and upkeep of course costs a small fortune each year but the enrichment and comfort that they provide is priceless.
Ruthie: “Being on a horse is just…it’s just really special for someone like me.”