School division brings horse interaction to seniors village

By Charles Lefebvre
May 30, 2019 - 5:03pm Updated: May 30, 2019 - 7:17pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB — Whether they’re working on a farm or ranch, or on the grounds of the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede, horses occupy a spot in many memories for people living in the region.

The Prairie Rose School Division helped make new memories for residents of the River Ridge Seniors Village Thursday afternoon. Members of the division’s equestrian program brought Seth, a 13-year-old Palomino horse, to the seniors home for equine interaction.

Linda Kraft, the equestrian program coordinator, is teaching equine interaction, and the visit to river Ridge gave her a chance to show the students the interaction in a public setting.

“He’s very obviously gentle and tame and loves treats and pets,” she said. “And just for people to have the opportunity to pet him and share their stories about horses they had growing up, and just to visit.”

Kraft says a person’s mood can change when they get to directly interact with a horse.

“It’s happiness, it’s a calming effect,” she said. “It’s just an overall feeling of joy and wellness and happiness.”

During his visit, Seth interacted with residents and staff inside and outside of the building, letting them pet him and feed him by hand.

Several of the residents grew up on farms and ranches, and seeing Seth triggered childhood memories.

“It brings back memories,” said Irma Springer. “You know it brings back, oh yes, many, many memories of what I used to do.”

“The ones we had around were always friendly,” said Jenice Brown. “We had a neighbour that had a horse that you could walk in between its legs and under its tummy, and it never moved.”

For Kraft, seeing the smiles on the faces, and hearing people’s memory is the most worthwhile part of equine therapy.

“A lot of times, when you’re exposed to horses daily, like some of my students, you forget the impact that they have on other people, and we sometimes take it for granted a little bit I think,” she said.

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