Travis, Kayton volunteer with SMILE

Shelby Travis, left, and Kallie KaytonShelby Travis and Kallie Kayton spend one day a week helping the developmentally disabled to experience horseback riding.

They began volunteering at the SMILE Therapeutic Riding Program in Battle Creek last summer after reading about the program. This is their second summer helping the riders.

There is a very wide range of disabilities and handicaps that the riders may have. Each young rider is paired with a volunteer, and if the disability is more severe, more volunteers may be assigned to the rider.

The volunteers help the young riders through an eight-step program that includes brushing the horses down and putting the tack on them. Then they help the riders mount their horses and help them ride. Some riders are able to ride on their own, where others must have help staying on the horse during the ride.

“I like seeing them improve,” says Shelby. “We had a boy at the beginning of last summer that couldn’t hold his head up, and by the end of the summer he was holding his head up straight, looking at all the horses.”

Details in the July 29 Albion News Print Edition.