Horsing around: Heron Terrace residents enjoy interactive outing at therapy farm

Residents already asking to return to Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association
10/5/2018  - Deron Hamel
Heron Terrace resident Denise Desmarais pets one of the horses at the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association’s therapy farm.  

A recent trip to an Essex County horse therapy farm provided new experiences for some Heron Terrace residents and brought back fond memories for others, say the Windsor long-term care community’s team members.

On Sept. 21, nine residents accompanied by staff took an outing to the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA), a 20-minute bus ride from Heron Terrace. At the farm, residents got to interact with horses, ponies and rabbits. A favourite part of the outing was when residents got to get close to the horses as they were being groomed.

“The residents were excited,” life enrichment worker Jessica Harcus tells S&R Today. “They loved interacting with the animals and the horses were very affectionate to the residents. You could tell the horses were used to be around people because they would snuggle up really close to the residents.”

Every month, the Heron Terrace life enrichment department asks residents for outing ideas. There is a list of different options, and the horse therapy farm was one of those options.

WETRA specializes in working with children and people living with disabilities.

Residents also got to enjoy a riding demonstration from the WETRA team inside an arena on the farm. The arena is also fixed with a raised platform for wheelchair seating, so residents using wheelchairs for mobility had a full view, notes life enrichment worker Leslie Miller.

Leslie adds that the outing was even attended by residents who normally don’t go on such excursions.

“Out of the nine residents, two of them generally don’t attend many programs outside of self-directed activities, so we really noticed them coming out of their shells at the WETRA facility, and that was amazing to see,” she says.

One resident, Denise Desmarais, who has a familiarity with horses, decided to add a personal touch to her appearance while at the WETRA farm, Jessica says.

“She put straw in her hair to feel like she was part of the barn duties because that was a part of her past,” she says.

While this was the first outing to WETRA, it probably won’t be the last, Jessica says.

“We had one resident who asked before we even got back (to Heron Terrace) if we could go again next month,” Jessica says.

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