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In their own words...
"As a first generation Latin American, it was different coming here, but I soon realized that I could just be me. St. Andrews is a school for people who like small classes and a close community."
- Anthony Fernandez, Class of '10

Therapeutic Horsemanship Testimonials

Students participating in hands-on therapeutic horsemanship classes at St. Andrews were asked to reflect on their experiences. Below are some of the thoughts the students shared about the life-changing education they received at the St. Andrews Equestrian Center.

"The biggest thing that I have learned both in the classroom and volunteering is giving the students processing time when they are given directions. I realize it takes each individual rider different amounts of time to process the directions and be able to perform the task. From being in the classroom now I know now why some lessons use certain types and tack in the lessons. During my volunteering experience I feel that I have changed some. I feel that I have become more flexible and ready to help. The lesson group was big and there were a lot of volunteers and I needed to be able to work with a lot of people.”

Liz Dulski

“There was one big change in myself because of this experience, my patience. I thought that I was a patient person before I started working with Debbie but then when I started helping with her lessons I realized that you can never have enough patience. I think I really grew as a person because I learned how to make the best out of the situation and stay as patient and calm as possible while still keeping a smile on my face.”

Laura Dyer

“The horses personalities along with their caring and understanding nature and the teaching from the instructor, help the students to learn to cope with their disabilities, and strengthen area which they are weak in. The horses do not see the disability that the student has, they only see the student. The student learns to view the horse as their friend and helper to do things (walk, see, or relax) for them if the student is not able to. The instructors give the students exercises to do during the lessons that help them to strengthen their bodies, and sometimes results like getting a student to relax their trunk muscles, or allowing a student to be able to use a walker instead of being confined to a wheel chair happen after months of riding.”

“I have learned and experienced a lot during my semester of volunteering. I have been exposed to many different children with varying disabilities. I have been able to work the children with cerebral palsy, a disability that I have not had a chance to work with. At first, I was nervous because the child I was working with was very strong willed and I did not know where my limits were. By the end of the volunteering session, and as I got more comfortable working with the children, they soon became one of my favorite groups.”

“Being a Ride Like A Knight instructor as well as a volunteer, I was able to learn from both aspects. Volunteering gave me the opportunity to work with the children, and polish my skills with them. I learned how to become much more patient with children, and how to react to different situations. I was also shown creative activities that I could apply to my lessons that I teach while volunteering. I was able to see this rider’s reactions to the games and activities, and that what the instructor taught, and what the rider’s response to the activity and modify and apply the skill to another lesson plan. The lessons were always fun and entertaining, and had a lot of volunteer and rider interaction. My experience at Ride Like a Knight has shaped me into a person who is creative and fun. I have learned that therapeutic riding is not as easy as it looks, and that it takes a lot of planning, but that it can also be a lot of fun. The lessons do not always have to be strict, but they can also be light and fun as well. Through volunteering I have also become aware of more of the safety concerns that present themselves during the lesson. I have learned to be a more organized volunteer, and have realized that when the volunteers are organized and know their job, that the lesson moves much smoother rather then when the instructors are changing everyone’s job at the last minute.”

Rebecca Midgett

“This taught me that instructors need to be flexible and work with what they have. The number of riders, the number of volunteers, the horses’ attitudes, and the amount of time we had affected each lesson. Overall, my volunteer experience has been good for me. I’ve learned more about horses, tack, working with people with disabilities, and working with people I dislike. The more I know the more confidence I have.”

Christina Guiffre

“As a volunteer who does sidewalking and leading, I am able to see the happy faces of the kids that get to come through the Ride Like A Knight program. I am able to see them conquer a fear or find the physical strength to two-point one more lap. I am able to witness the love they have for the therapy horses and the attachment they have to them.”

“The changes I have seen in myself due to my experience with Ride Like A Knight are many. After good lessons and nice days at the barn, I am a lot happier. I have definitely increased my patience because of the lesson I volunteered in and because of Marshmellow (one of the TH horses).”

Sarah Karas

“Working with a few troubled youth students has let me see how the kids can change. Working around the horses and doing barn chores has taught them responsibility. You rode the horse today, and it was fun, now you have to care for him by brushing him and cleaning his buckets. At first the students were not happy about doing work. But now they realize that it si all part of riding as well as learning. I was assigned a particular student to lead. After, I would direct him on how to properly un-tack, groom, and clean. When the program first began, you could tell that there was a certain void between the two of us. I would try to bring up things to talk about, but he never seemed like he wanted or cared to listen to what I was saying. I believe that after several weeks of caring for something other than himself, and learning responsibilities and communication from the horse, he learned how to better communicate with me.”

Marissa Romaniello


"I have definitely become more comfortable in the ring. I have also made friends that have deeply impacted my life. I also feel like I have made a difference in these kids’ lives. I talk to quite a few of them every week when they arrived at the barn. I have learned so much about teaching because I have gotten closer to many of the instructors. I love the program more and more every day. I love being around the barn and the people out there. This program has definitely changed my life.”

Philip Ratchford

"I think that being in this class definitely helped me a lot. Now I can volunteer and actually understand the things that we are doing and how they affect the rider. I now see why circle and different patterns are important to some riders. I have a better understanding for what our horses go through and why it is so hard sometimes to teach riders with disabilities. I feel more confident as a volunteer because I have learned so much from this class.”

Amanda Liguori

“Through volunteering at the Ride Like A Knight center here at St. Andrews I have learned so much about this type of therapy and have seen changes in the children, even if they are ever so slight. I have been able to help out three times a week with a wide range of children. All of them have progressed in their own ways, but this has given me the chance to help and watch so many different people and a chance to help them despite their limitations physically.”

“I realized that I have learned a lot this semester and through watching a variety of lessons I picked up on different teaching styles and all sorts of games and tricks that I could use in certain situations to be more effective. I also worked on handling horses better. I have more patience now although I still have a ways to go.”

Whitney Powell

“The experience stretched me by giving me skills that I can use later in life and by giving me a new perspective on TH. I see a person who is knowledgeable about TH and the lesson program. I also see a person who is no longer nervous about volunteering: it is actually one of my favorite parts of the semester. I see a person who is building a base in the program and cannot wait to learn more. I also see a person who will be putting this knowledge to the test this summer and hopefully will be learning more.”

Kate Sorgenfrei

"I have figured out from this semester volunteering that I believe I am going to be able to do this for the rest of my life. Taking this class and volunteering at the same time allowed for me to fully understand what all is going to be needed of me through the rest of the years. As a result of taking this class I was able to see from the lessons and from the instructors what was really needed. I learned what to do when kids are not going to behave and how to actually deal with misbehaving kids properly. Also, I was able to understand the lessons and how they were going to be done more for the riders and for their capabilities. I have also through this semester been able to connect a little more with the kids and have come out of my shell around the kids.”

Sarah Rafferty

"This semester I was much more observant. I tried to take what I learned in the classroom each week and see where it was applied in lessons. I also asked a lot more questions as to why one thing was done versus another.”

 Casey Lowe

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