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WWU Therapeutic Riding Class Holds Riding Demo

FULTON, MO – A therapeutic riding class at William Woods University recently was given an opportunity to plan and teach a lesson to a group of people with various mental illnesses.

Students in the therapeutic riding class taught their visitors basic horse care, different horse gaits and mounting. They gave participants horseshoes for good luck and information about the WWU equestrian science program.

For the participants, the best part was being allowed to pet the horses.

Brianna Andrade, a psychosocial rehab (PSR) worker for Comprehensive Health Services, Inc., and Gary Mullen, chair of the WWU equestrian science division, collaborated to make this service-learning event available to a group that Andrade facilitates.

"Service-learning is a teaching method that utilizes community service to help students gain a deeper understanding of course content, acquire new knowledge and engage in civic activity," Cassie Davis, academic service-learning coordinator at WWU, said.

Andrade explained that Comprehensive Health Systems is a Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (CPRP) that is a community-based option of care for persons with serious mental illnesses. The primary focus of the program is that of providing assistance in the management of the illness, while avoiding impatient hospitalization.

She said she helps the clients develop behaviors and abilities that will allow them to return to mainstream or normative community living.

"I basically encourage them to interact more in the community and teach them ways to help themselves become more independent," she said.

After the event, she noted that the six clients involved "wanted me to tell you that you should give all of the students A’s" and that they would enjoy attending similar events in the future.

Rachel Graves of Liberty, Mo., is a sophomore double major in equestrian science and psychology. She came to WWU because of the therapeutic riding concentration, and she is in the therapeutic riding class that put on the event.

"I thoroughly enjoyed this experience," said Graves. "The smiles on the faces of the audience made it worth it to me. It’s those smiles that inspired me to want to go into the Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy (EAAT) industry.

In addition, she noted that the event "gave us a chance to apply what we were learning in the class to a real life situation. This even benefitted the community in that it gave a group of very special individuals something fun to do for an hour, something to break up their everyday routine."

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