Participant Paige Roberts rides Peanut with the help of her leader, Sandy Gyler, right, Jenny Millay, left, and Hailey Ammons, back right, as they lead riders around the barn Thursday at the Dream Riders’ weeklong camp.

Dream Riders of Kentucky, Inc. is finishing out its first integrated, all-ability camp on Friday.

The camp goal, according to master instructor Sandy Webster, is to work on core values with students that will translate into everyday life.

So far, Webster said the camp has been a success and she, along with volunteers, have seen a great improvement in students.

The camp is inclusive and interactive with children and teens, with and without disabilities, working together to learn.

Webster said the camp is meant to help students with everyday life skills such as respect, teamwork, kindness, manners, behavior, punctuality, tolerance and following directions. By incorporating horses into the mix, she said it also helps with the confidence of students and develop core strength, coordination, balance and posture.

“We utilize the horses … they all have something in common, that way — something to learn together,” she said. “Having a camp of inclusion is also asking them to respect one another for who they are and address differences and socially interact with each other in a correct way.”

This is the first year doing the integrated, all-ability camp and Webster said there are already other camps planned for the rest of the year, the next of which will take place June 7-11. The camp is $200 for five days and lasts from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“It’s going amazing. I feel that all of our students … none of them had really learned a lot of these skills before and they’re now gradually becoming more and more independent, their confidence and self-esteem is rising all the time,” she said.

Activities will include riding horses, leading a horse, grooming and tacking, horsemanship, crafts and an end-of-camp horse show in which students will be able to take on leadership roles to show parents and caregivers what they have learned.

“We want them to have that leadership role and know what it’s like to be a mentor to someone else so they’re preparing to take that role with their parents,” she said. “We’re seeing that there’s a real need in the community for something like this and, at a time of COVID, we hope that we’re launching people into good and appropriate behaviors with other people.”

Work at Dream Riders is volunteer-based, according to Webster, so the program is also seeking more volunteers to help with future camps.

Dream Riders seeks to provide individuals with physical, cognitive, social and/or emotional needs an opportunity to experience the joy of riding and the therapeutic value of horses.

Anyone interested in more information on Dream Riders or in becoming a volunteer can reach out to DreamRidersofKy@gmail.com or by phone at 270-613-0079.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360

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