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Saddle Club rides on with Hay Day for the disabled

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Balance, trust and responsibility are just a few of the things that children and adults with disabilities might get out of “Hay Day,” a family event coming to Avon Lake in September.

The Avon Lake Saddle Club, which began in the late 1960s, will be holding its third annual Hay Day 10 a.m. to

2 p.m. Sept. 19 at Weiss Field in Avon Lake. Hay Day will include horse rides, the petting and grooming of horses, riding exhibitions, games and concessions.

One of the purposes of Hay Day is to provide an introduction to horse therapy, where equestrian activities are used to enhance the lives of people with disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, said Kathleen Sullivan, president of the Avon Lake Saddle Club.

“It’s really amazing to see the changes in kids,” she said. “The horse warms their muscles and teaches the kids balance with the movement of the horse. Psychologically, there is a real bond between the horse and the rider — it’s awesome!”

Other benefits of horse therapy include improved hand-eye coordination, increased self-esteem and confidence, enhanced communication and social skills, and the creation of trust and responsibility with the horse.

Sullivan estimates that 10 or so horses will be on hand for the event.

“The horses come from local barns, from people associated with the saddle club. They include paint horses, quarter horses, Arabians and miniature ponies,” she said.

This year, draft horse owners might bring out their horses and wagons as an exhibition of that they do with bells and whistles.

The event, which drew more than 180 people last year, would not be possible without its many volunteers and donations.

“It’s a nice day for families and children to come out and enjoy themselves,” Sullivan said. “It’s free for the families thanks to fundraising and donations. It is a day to spend together as families and not worry about expenses.”

This year’s fundraising has already begun, including a partnership with the Horsemen Motorcycle Association, which has done work with the Special Olympics.

The volunteers run the concessions, facilitate the games and take photos — in addition to working with the horses.

“At the end of the day, it was the numerous volunteers that generously donated their time that has made this event a success,” Sullivan said.

All the time, energy and money is worth the effort, according to Sullivan.

“This is an awesome event.” she said. “The parents are so gracious. This is just a wonderful event.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or participating in the event should contact Kathleen Sullivan at katsullivan@wowway.com or (440) 536-0145.

Contact The Chronicle-Telegram at 329-7155 or ctnews@chroniclet.com.



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