PAL Program 2/5/13

Local therapeutic riding program needs local input

By Myra Bean

Their hearts are as big as their bodies. They have this uncanny ability to understand a human language that even humans sometime find difficult to interpret.

The horses of PALS (Panola Livestock Show Association) broke the language barrier between horses and children who have a hard time expressing themselves.

This program has helped bridge a gap in the lives of special needs children who are autistic, suffer from muscular dystrophy, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and Down Syndrome to name a few.

PALS is a therapeutic riding center, according to Susan Dent, a certified riding instructor over the program.

“The horses are friends to children,” Dent said.

With the horses, the riders learn to focus, concentrate and have increased memorization and socialization.

PALS is housed at ArenaOne, west of Batesville. The program uses six horses and three are senior citizens who need special foods.

The constant costs associated with the upkeep of the horses has put the program in some financial strains.

“There is a need for this program and we offer it at no cost to the families,” Dent said. “They have enough expense.”

The program uses volunteers to work with the horses and the families and has a need for more volunteers.

Because of the lack of volunteers, the program has taken a few months off and will reopen April 2. With more funds, Dent hopes to be able to retire some of the older horses who will not be put to death, but allowed to live out their lives.

Dent said there may be grants available and welcomes help from anyone who knows how to write grants.

To assist this program, call Dent at (662) 292-5014 or mail to EAAC, P. O. Box 347, Batesville, MS 38606. To donate food for the animals, deliver to ArenaOne.

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