Deb and Alyssa’s Visit to the Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association

Written by: Deb Dolton Edited/Photographed by: Alyssa Lait

“I Can” by John A. Davies on a bookmark given to us during our VTEA visit. “I Can” is  a heartfelt poem that reflects the VTEA’s goals.

On June 25th, we visited the Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association (VTEA) and met Board Member, Brenda Singbeil. She gave us a wonderful tour of the facilities, and gave us some insight on the program itself, which has been running since 1983.

Deb Dolton (Langley Volunteers) and Brenda Singbeil (VTEA).

The VTEA has been providing therapeutic equestrian programs for children and adults of varying abilities since they opened their doors, and then after they moved from their original location in 2008. Their current location at 3330 256th Street features 20 acres of land, including an indoor arena as well as winding forest trails to provide their clients with varied riding experiences. 

We had the opportunity to observe a young rider, Lachlan Ashley, on “his horse” Rosie. During his lesson, we were able to observe him taking a round in the arena as well as on the back trails. Brenda showed us the finer points of these courses, including the figurines hidden throughout the forest for astute observers to find on their rides. Alyssa can verify that there were many that we missed while we were walking the trail.

The VTEA has a very special group of eleven trained therapeutic riding horses – with the help of these four-legged friends and dedicated volunteers, riders are able to improve their physical, mental and emotional well-being. We met Sprite and Fiona who were getting tacked up for a couple of clients, who would arrive just as we were leaving.

Sprite, a young member of the VTEA team, getting tacked up.
Saddles for the VTEA’s eleven horses, with varying charming finishes.

The VTEA is very pleased to be able to support a new program for Seniors (65+) which has shown positive results and enthusiastic appreciation from clients. The goals for this program are to prevent falls, strengthen core muscles, help with stiff joints, improve balance, coordination, stability and flexibility. Besides the physical benefits, there is even more praise for this new program: it allows clients to learn a new skill, encourages social interaction with the volunteers and communication with a horse, leading to over-all relaxation of the body and mind.

So, how can you help out at the VTEA? Deb asked Brenda what kinds of volunteers are needed at the VTEA at the end of our visit:

  • Side-walkers to assist directly in the therapy sessions.
  • People interested in property maintenance.
  • Office functions, such as: 
    • Helping with grant applications
    • Board membership

You can begin volunteering at the VTEA at 14 years of age, and parental consent is required if you are under 19 years of age. Please visit their website or email info@vtea.ca for more information on volunteering, program participation or becoming a member.

One of the first buildings we saw when we arrived at the VTEA, the indoor arena.

We left with a better understanding of the important service they are providing to enhance the quality of life for all of their clients. We are very fortunate to have such a facility in our community!

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