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December 27, 2015

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GAIT TRC horses get a new look


Rusty's ears are turned towards the rider, listening for his rider's next move.
"Side aides" Chrysann Calvert (left) and Sue Casey (right) provide support to the
rider while "leader" Jan Lucciola is available to help guide Rusty, as needed.

MILFORD TWP - This Fall, all of the horses at GAIT TRC near Milford, were wearing bright blue halters while conducting therapeutic services for people with special needs.  When GAIT horses have their blue halters on, they are “working”, similar to a seeing eye dog with its vest designating that it is “working” and one is not to interfere by petting, treating or even allowing to sniff your hands. While working, the horses at GAIT TRC need to focus on their riders’ subtle voice and movement cues, balance the riders’ uneven weight, and compensate for their riders’ poor motor-planning in addition to accepting and processing prodigious external stimuli.  The significance of the blue halters is to distinguish between when the horse is conducting therapeutic services versus non-therapeutic activities, such as exercising for conditioning purposes.  

GAIT’s mission is “to improve the quality of life of children and adults with special needs through equine activities and therapies resulting in a more independent life in society”.  The key word here is “equine,” for without the horse the results would not be as quick or dramatic.

The horses at GAIT are extensively screened, selected, and trained to do this type of work. 

Blue is a soft, calming color that helps GAIT participants gain composure and confidence before even approaching the horse.  The halters also remind everyone not to interfere with the horses while they are working.  In order for the horse to promote healthy lifestyles, exercise, socialization and fun, we need to respect their workspace so that everyone can enjoy a positive emotional and physical experience.

For greater visibility and increased comfort for these working horses, GAIT is currently raising funds to purchase matching blue saddle pads.

If you would like to know more about GAIT and its horses and programs, or to donate visit www.gaitpa.org.

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