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HOPE riders strut their stuff today

Student Darien Jacob gives a high five after riding in last year’s horse show. The HOPE program trains disabled children and adults in equestrian activities.  - photo courtesy of Karen Newman
Student Darien Jacob gives a high five after riding in last year’s horse show. The HOPE program trains disabled children and adults in equestrian activities.
— image credit: photo courtesy of Karen Newman

The HOPE program is hosting an open house and horse show classic today, where disabled riders can display their talents to the public.

HOPE is a therapeutic program that provides equestrian activities to children and adults. Students learn techniques such as vaulting, gymnastics or dance on horseback, and driving a horse and cart.

“We want to teach children to be independent. They learn to control their behavior, math, verbal, strength, and it all happens on a horse,” said Miriam Burk, head instructor.

Children must also visualize basic geometry to ride the horse in a circle or triangle.

The program is open to all disabilities.

“We recently had a girl in a wheelchair riding horseback, who had no feeling in her legs. Her family said she’s made so much progress in only two sessions, it was amazing to watch,” Burk said.

At today’s event, the students’ training will help them complete an obstacle course, followed by a riding, vaulting and driving demonstration. Judges will award ribbons to each of the classes.

Local sculptor Julie Hougom created a 10-inch-wide bronze statue of a horse for the raffle drawing. The price is $10 per book of tickets.

The show is free to the public and runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Island County Fairgrounds arena in Langley.

Food is available onsite for purchase.

Burk said people can register for the fall session on Tuesday, Aug. 5, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Hope Building in the Island County Fairgrounds. Call 360-221-7656 for more information.

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