In the age of COVID where businesses and nonprofits are struggling to keep their doors open, Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association (VTEA) is headed towards the future like a stampeding stallion thanks to support from the community and a myriad of COVID-safe measures.
VTEA provides therapeutic horseback riding and hippotherapy treatments for children and adults since 1983.
Lynn Moseley, VTEA president, said the biggest struggle is seeing kids looking to come ride having to be placed on a lengthy waiting list.
“We can’t have side-walkers because of COVID, so the list is unfortunately long,” she said.
Normally, the VTEA would be having shows that bring in the community, but VTEA can’t hold events as per COVID rules.
But throughout the pandemic, the organization has found multiple ways of reshaping it’s role in the community and being able to help.
The Front Line Heroes Program was introduced last summer, which aims to provide relief to front line workers from the mental stress and anxiety experienced working on the front lines of the pandemic.
One-hour sessions under the guidance of a CanTRA certified instructor are offered for $60.
Now, starting in March, the Equine Facilitated Wellness (EFW) program, the association will have a counsellor and social worker on site to help anyone dealing with loss, grief, stress, or anxiety.
“VTEA offers a safe place to be and lend support,” Moseley explained. “It can make a big difference and we’ve had clients some to us looking for something safe to do to work through their grief after a loss.”
She explained the relaxing nature of caring for or riding horses can help with connection, releasing tension, and lower anxiety.
Staff members have even gone that extra mile to put a smile on children’s faces by shaving hearts into some of the horses’ hair.
Like the front line hero program, which accepts donations to cover appointments for those who may not be able to afford the program, Moseley said anyone can donate or sponsor the program to support mental health needs for others.
“Our updated website will have forms for anyone looking to donate or an intake form for people to take part in the program,” Moseley added.
With 11 horses on site, four equine staff, and a handful of dedicated volunteers aiding riders, Moseley said there is always room for helping hands and donations to keep the association running.
TDK Terminals and Phoenix Cranes, for instance, delivered dropped off a C-Can in early Feb as a gift, which Moseley said will be used for storage.
Looking to the future after COVID and clients can take their time at the stables, staff have plans to install a sitting area under a large, shady tree where people can rest after their ride and be amongst horses.
“We love what we do and we are not going anywhere and can’t do it without the community,” Moseley concluded.
Located at 256th Street in Aldergrove – just south of the Fraser Highway – people can visit www.vtea.ca for more information.
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