Center provides equine opportunity |

Center provides equine opportunity

Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson Steven Fuller, 10, harnesses Dash at the Emily Griffith Center Inc., in Rifle Wednesday. Steven said Dash is his favorite horse. "He's my friend. I have a lot of confidence with him," he said.

The Emily Griffith Center in Rifle has employed a few four-legged friends to help boys through tough times for the past two years.

But the program relies on financial support from the community. The center is looking for some folks to adopt a horse or two.Adopting a horse entails taking on the expense of feeding, shoeing and providing for a horse for one month so that a boy at Emily Griffith can learn how to care for the horses on a day-to-day basis and benefit from the horses’ friendship and counseling.The facility has five horses, but program director Susan Garcia said two are moving on, and the center hopes for horse donations. Horses should be gentle, rideable and between the ages of 8 and 18.Heroes”You know how animals kind of have their own language?” said Steven, a middle-school-age boy at the Emily Griffith Center, whose last name is not being used because he is a minor. “It’s like Dash has told Kady about me.”

Dash is Steven’s favorite horse in the Equine program. Kady might be his second-favorite, he said.”You know how you see a horse and he really just fits you?” Steven asked. “He’s practically just like me – very smart.”Steven said he has been writing short stories about heroic horses who save people’s lives.”But they’re normal horses,” Steven said. “They’re not like talking horses or anything.”The horses at Emily Griffith, Garcia would say, are heroes not unlike those in Steven’s stories.”A lot of these boys come here with abuse and neglect issues,” Garcia said. “It’s a lot easier for the kids to reach out to the horses than people.”

Garcia said equine therapy tends to make children feel safe and speeds up their treatment.”It’s very inspiring to see these kids,” Garcia said. “A lot of them have never had friends before, and the horse becomes their best friend.”Garcia said a lot of the horses have come to Emily Griffith with the same kinds of abuse and neglect issues as the boys.”It never fails,” Garcia said. “A child will pick out the horse that has similar issues.”Steven said he thinks Dash has helped him and taught him.”I had to ride sidesaddle once,” Steven said. “I refused a couple times because I was scared, but once I did it, I felt a lot more confident.”

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