Windreach to expand services with arrival of three new ponies
A charity that provides riding lessons to people with special needs will be able to expand the programme following the arrival of three new therapy ponies.
The trio – Dash, Mosaic, and Penny – will increase the programme’s capacity by 35 per cent.
Samantha Hillier, therapeutic programme manager at WindReach said: “Thank you to everyone who made this happen! It was so great to have the donors come to WindReach to meet the new ponies.
“They’re such an amazing addition to our programme. We’ve had a waiting list to get into the therapeutic riding programme for a few years now and these three new ponies will mean that we’re able to provide this wonderful programme to so many more of our participants.
“We are also really excited to start our big celebrations next year for our 50th anniversary of therapeutic riding here in Bermuda.
“It’s huge for Bermuda as we’re only a few years behind the Riding for the Disabled Association in England, they just celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2019.”
The full funding of each pony – including air freight, vet exams, tests, vaccinations and health certification for flying, and transportation within the US – was given by individuals and corporate donors, including Kirk and Judy Kitson and Mr Kitson’s brother Richard, Sompo International, Philip and Eileen Thorne, and the family and friends of the late Phil Talbot.
Richard Kitson, who is regional director of the Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped, said: “I was born with learning differences and physical disabilities at a time when we didn’t have facilities like WindReach and it was challenging growing up different to others.
“That said, I have always believed that we must do the best we can with what we have. I really hope that Dash provides joy and inspires others to overcome their challenges to achieve their full potential for a happy life, and to embrace their differences in a positive way”.
Mrs Kitson added: “For many years I volunteered for the Riding for the Disabled programme and understand first-hand the life changing impact that WindReach has on the lives of those who participate.
“Our family is excited to be able to support the incredible work of the WindReach Programme”.
Alana Anderson, vice-president and head of US mortgage reinsurance at Sompo International, said: “WindReach has always been an organisation that we have felt provides tremendous benefit to a very diverse section of the community.
“The therapeutic riding programme is exceptional. The fact that there is a focus on persons with special needs just reinforces to us that anyone with any ability should have access to programmes and activities. We are proud of our contribution and hope that this will benefit WindReach for many years to come.”
Tina Nash, the executive director of WindReach, also raised funds by hiking across 41 peaks in the UK’s Lake District with her husband, Mark. Their Peaks for Ponies Fundraiser secured more than $27,500 in donations.
Ms Nash said: “We are so appreciative for the incredible support and encouragement we receive from the community each and every day. Having such a diverse group of companies and people come together to help WindReach make this dream come true, is truly touching and very much appreciated.
“Having our Therapeutic Riding Stables at full capacity means we can serve more people and continue to support the quality of life for people living with special needs and disabilities. That’s what we do at WindReach, and we are very proud of that.”
A spokeswoman for the charity said: “A well-trained therapy horse moves in a rhythmic, symmetrical and organised way. Each step the horse takes provides strong sensory and physical input in many dimensions including up and down; side to side; and back and forth.
“By asking for variations in these movements the instructor gains results that cannot be achieved by a machine or duplicated in a clinical setting.
“When donating towards a therapy animal, donors are giving a gift that keeps giving for years to come and there are many individuals living with disabilities that will benefit.”