Disabled riders, tall in the saddle, perform at jamboree

October 08, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Miniature horses frolicked outside a barn while their larger cousins performed serious work Saturday afternoon at the ninth annual Star Community Barnyard Jamboree.

Inside the barn in a show ring, horses and their disabled riders performed a range of feats for a small audience.

Donna Ridings watched her daughter, Kayla, 14, perform with Jessee, a champion show horse that was donated to Star's Therapeutic Riding Program.

Kayla has been riding at Star Community for about two years, although she has been around horses her entire life, Donna Ridings said. Kayla and Jessee performed figure eights, trotting and cantering along to the song "Get Off My Back" from the movie "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron."


"I rode, she rides," Donna Ridings said.

Kayla now wants to compete more, and eventually work with horses. She competes in local Special Olympics events, and will start competing more next year, her mother said.

Star Community riders learn to ride, and must learn to groom and tack up their horses, to the best of their ability.

"The act of caring for another living thing is helpful for them, too," Ridings said.

Therapeutic riding builds confidence, muscles, motor skills and balance, said Ginny Gaylor, director of the equestrian center at Star.

"It's a fun, neat, social thing to do," Gaylor said.

Star Community's equestrian center serves about 120 riders a month, 70 percent of whom are disabled, Gaylor said. Many of her riders have autism, Down syndrome or other social and behavioral challenges, she said.

Outside the barn, volunteers were holding a bake sale and silent auction. Children cooed over the cows, goats and pigs in the petting zoo, and the smell of funnel cakes filled the air. Craft vendors also set up booths at the jamboree.

A groundbreaking ceremony for a new facility at Star Community is scheduled for today. Kristen Cox, Republican candidate for Maryland lieutenant governor, will be on hand for the ceremony, Star Community Executive Director Arnold Eby said.

If you go...

What Barnyard Jamboree

When: Today, noon to 4 p.m.

Where:Star Community, 13757 Broadfording Church Road

Call 301-791-0011

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