Horseback riding lessons help children affected by domestic violence

Photos by Tevin Stinson- Janiya McGill rides a horse during a group riding lesson sponsored by Eliza’s Helping Hands on Monday, June 12

Horseback riding lessons help children affected by domestic violence
June 15
04:00 2017

When people think of horseback riding, most reference something to do for fun or maybe competition.

But for many people, “saddling up” and riding out on horseback can provide a remedy for dealing with stress and traumatic situations.

On Monday, June 12, that therapeutic healing was on full display, as more than a dozen local children took advantage of an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of horseback and trick riding at Cash Lovell Stables and Riding Academy in Winston-Salem. The group session was the culmination of a series of classes sponsored by Eliza’s Helping Hands (EHH), a local nonprofit that helps victims and families affected by domestic abuse.

EHH founder Kenya Thornton, who has been riding since she was 15 years old, said when you’re riding an animal that weighs 1,000 pounds or more, it makes you feel confident.  And for many of the children affected by domestic violence, that self-assurance can go a long way.

“When you’re riding a horse, it makes you feel powerful and some of these kids are in situations where they don’t have power and control over certain things,” continued Thornton. “I feel like if you’re a small person and you can control an animal that size, you can pretty much do anything.

“We just wanted to give them that confidence and open them up to new things,” she said.

After watching her son Peyton stand up on the back of a horse like a pro, and take multiple laps around the stable, Carrie Gould said she has already seen the positive effects of the riding courses. She said, “He went from being scared to loving every moment.

“This has really helped his confidence a lot,” said Gould. “I’m really thankful we were able to participate in this program. It has been great.”

Rising ninth-grader Janiya McGill said she enjoyed the sessions so much they she decided to continue to take courses.

“I never rode a horse before coming here but once I got up there, I knew it was something I would like to keep doing,” said McGill. “There’s just something about being up there that excites me. I can’t wait to come back.”

After hearing feedback from participants and parents, Thornton said she was humbled by the experience. During an interview with The Chronicle earlier this week, Thornton said she was positive that the children would take their new-found confidence with them to school, and other aspects of everyday life.   

“I’m happy that all the children were able to get something out of the sessions,” said Thornton. “The parents will probably see the children be more confident, and it’s an experience that they can share with their friends.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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