Published Friday, December 07, 2012
By MARTHA A. WOODHAM
Special to The Newnan Times-Herald
Shouts of “Go, Nathan, go!” rose above the sounds of Christmas music at the CORRAL horse show on Dec. 1 as the youngster successfully dropped a toy into a Santa basket and trotted to the finish line with the assistance of watchful volunteers.
He raised a fist in a victory salute and did a wiggling dance in the saddle as he completed the game designed to develop his motor skills.
Twice a year, CORRAL, the Coweta Organization for Riding Rehabilitation And Learning in Roscoe, holds a horse show for clients to show parents and patrons what they’ve learned.
Since 1987, Marie and Brown Powell and their stable of well-trained horses have helped hundreds of youngsters and adults with mental and physical disabilities through riding and carriage-driving sessions. Riding is widely recognized as one of the most beneficial types of therapeutic recreation, and the CORRAL program has 200 participants.
“Therapeutic riding helps disabled people develop self-confidence and improves concentration, posture, balance and coordination and strengthens and relaxes muscles,” said Marie Powell as she welcomed a surprise guest, Santa Claus, aka Tom Swaine of Newnan.
The Lindsay Riggs Foundation provided lunch — and an enthusiastic cheering section — for the riders, their families and the volunteers.
CORRAL has a team of dedicated volunteers who assist each rider. Some of the volunteers such as Jim Wetherington have been involved with CORRAL for as long as 25 years, and two of the youngest were on hand Saturday guiding horses around the arena and encouraging the riders.
Teens Sabrina Lewis and Daniel Sewell, both of Newnan, were grooming horses Duster and Indy after their turn in the arena. Daniel, a 10th-grader who is home schooled, said he began volunteering with his sister, Bethany, a CORRAL instructor. Sabrina, a ninth-grader at East Coweta High School who takes riding herself, volunteers because she wants to do her part for others.
Therapeutic riding is very volunteer-intense, with three people often needed on the ground for each rider — one to lead each horse and one positioned on either side of the animal. But the smiles Saturday showed that the effort is worth it. As Nathan rode around the ring, the faster his horse went, the bigger his grin.