The Washington Outdoor Report week of January 15

A very special place

Nancy Grette with one of her Norwegian Fjord horses at the Alatheia Riding Center Courtesy John Kruse

A friend of mine suggested I do a story about the Alatheia Therapeutic Riding Center near Wenatchee and I’m so glad she did. I visited there this past week and met with the co-founder of this very special place, Nancy Grette.

Nancy and her husband Glenn started this non-profit organization at their home on Sleepy Hollow Heights in 2011. The two had purchased several horses they kept on their property but their children had grown and left home and they were pondering what to do. That’s when a five-year old girl who was physically disabled came out for a ride for her fifth birthday on one of their horses. The ride was an amazing experience for the child and Nancy said she knew what she was meant to do for the rest of her life.

After that Nancy and Glenn started offering weekly rides to disabled children and adults as a means of emotional and physical therapy. The word Alatheia is a Greek word from the New Testament meaning “disclosed truth.” It specifically comes from Ephesians 4:15 where the Apostle Paul exhorts all to speak the truth (alatheia) in love to one another. In Nancy’s words, “It is a way of living, and the riding center is how we choose to speak truth.”

The Alatheia Riding Center provides some 108 individuals the opportunity to spend an hour or more with and on their horses every week. This includes not only physically and mentally disabled children and adults, but also combat veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

The rides take place on their 12 Norwegian Fjord horses, a small, stout and ancient breed known for their gentle temperament and sure footedness. Nancy says these horses are very empathetic and reflect the feelings of individuals they come in contact with. She also explained the weekly rides offer therapeutic benefits for their riders in a physical, emotional and mental way.

Nancy explains the reason it is a weekly program (as opposed to a one-time experience) is because you need the continued exposure to the movements on the horse to get the benefit.

“Physically, when an individual is on a horse, for every minute there are a hundred balance accommodations going on in the body. You are developing balance, coordination as well as large and small motor skills which is helpful for physical disabilities.

Those with learning disabilities benefit from the socialization and peers and executive function of the brain, while those who suffer from trauma are ministered to by the horse in a way you can’t explain. The horses are intuitive and in the moment and there is no judgement. People can be who they are with a horse.”

The rides happen in an indoor arena or on a trail overlooking the Wenatchee Valley. This non-profit organization has several employees who work right out of the Grette’s home along with a number of volunteers.

One group of volunteers are the barn buddies. These are young adults with developmental disabilities who work at the ranch for two to three hours a couple of times a week. Nancy says they started this program because they learned that once children were out of special education classes in school and on their own as adults, they didn’t have much in place to develop further life skills. The Barn Buddies program allows these individuals, ranging from 21 to 40 years of age, the opportunity to learn how to work on a ranch or in a barn and socialize with other individuals.

The Alatheia Therapeutic Riding Center has plans to expand from its current location soon so that it can increase the number of individuals they serve. If you want to support this non-profit organization with donations or time as a volunteer contact them through their website at www.alatheiaridingcenter.com or call 509-630-8710.

John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com

 

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