March 6, 2017
Writer: Mackenzie Holbrook
The Innovative Therapeutic Riding Program is a nonprofit organization that works with the elderly, at-risk youth and people with disabilities, to teach them to ride horses through therapy.
Therapeutic riding has been shown to improve attention span, organization and memorization skills, handwriting, communication, mobility, balance and coordination, among other things.
That's why Kaylynn Cordingley founded ITRP in 2011 in Idaho Falls when she found out her son had a disability.
Kendra Martin, an instructor-in-training at ITRP, said the program has grown significantly since it started six years ago.
"There are eight horses right now," Martin said. "About 50 clients, and we have a lot of volunteers and we're always looking for interns and volunteers to come join. There are three instructors and we have a board and we just work to make the program bigger and better for all the clients."
Martin, who started out as a volunteer in the program encourages BYU-Idaho students to volunteer with ITRP because of how rewarding it is to see people with disabilities learn to be self-sufficient on the horses.
"It's so fun to see children and adults who are in wheelchairs their whole life and they're able to get on a horse with our help and they can just ride around the arena and they can just ride by themselves, they don't need any assistance most of the time," Martin said. "Even if you've had a bad day, you always know that you're helping people for the better so it's a pretty cool program to be a part of."
ITRP is hosting an event at BYU-Idaho to help students learn more about the program and how they can get involved in volunteering, or how they can put their volunteer work toward internship credits for the university.
"We just love students to come be more involved because it kindles the fire a little bit, and it gets them exposed to that type of life that these kids who are unable to do the things that normal people can do every day, but they help them to be able to feel a little like they can do things - anyone can ride a horse," Martin said. "It doesn't matter if you can't walk, you can walk on a horse."
The ITRP Volunteer Pizza Party is March 23, at 6:30 p.m., in the Clarke Building room 235. Anyone interested in volunteering with ITRP is invited to attend.
For more information on the program, visit www.magicsaddles.com.
Click below to listen to our full interview with Kendra Martin from ITRP.