By Justin Seward
Medicine Hat’s River Ridge seniors complex welcomed a guest in the form of a horse on May 30.
Seth, a 13-year-old horse, his owner Irvine School equine director Linda Kraft and her junior high equine students visited with seniors to provide an Equine Interaction Program for Senior citizens.
“I enjoyed doing this venture with my students as well because it’s something they’ve never really done before,” said Kraft.
“(We) forget that there’s people who have had those experiences (and) like the elderly here who don’t have them, who get to have this opportunity without having to go somewhere.”
She added the most important thing learned with the interaction is compassion, caring, consideration, mindfulness and thoughtfulness.
“There’s tons of studies out there that horses and animals (and) the therapeutic benefits they have. They enhance mood (and) help reduce stress,” said Kraft.
River Ridge Seniors Village recreation specialist Isaac Wells says it was about a month before him and Kraft connected on the event that he had received an emailed video on horse therapy.
“It was just amazing how people with disabilities in hospital just warmed,” said Wells.
“When the horse came in, there’s somebody laying in the bed, and all of sudden just to see the life coming back into the people just by feeling the horse, touching the horse and the horse touching them.”
Wells says the event revived many memories for the residents of their days and times on the ranches and farms.
“The socialization and therapy they’re getting is just amazing,” said Wells.
“A lot of seniors here tell stories of when they went school. That was their transportation,” he said. They rode horse and the horse stayed with them at school all day and they rode horse back home again.”
Wells noted that the young girls from the school were going around and interacting with the senior residents and well received because memories were made through picture taking.
“Those pictures will go on the memories and I’ll put the pictures up through the building to remind people,” said Wells.
“It’s jogging the whole family right from mom, dad, grandpa and grandma, right back to their children.”