On March 12, 2020, because of the increasing threat of COVID-19, Special Equestrians temporarily paused the programs and services at our facility. Our Board and Stable Committee began meeting by Zoom to decide the next steps for our organization. We chose to develop new procedures and policies, which could be implemented and would be essential for a safe reopening.
After the lockdown was lifted in early May of 2020, we hosted a participant and volunteer parade at SE. Our participants and volunteers were invited to drive down our facility road to say hello (at a distance) to their favorite horses and instructors. It was an emotional day, and tears of joy were shed. We all cheered our friends from the pastures, next to the horses they love so much.
In June, we had a therapeutic riding session for riders who did not need sidewalkers or assistance in mounting/dismounting. Thank you to all volunteers who participated in our limited opening. It was a great success and a learning experience. We were able to practice safety and disinfectant protocols that are very important now and in our future.
Because of the extreme heat and the rise in COVID-19 cases in Florida, we began our summer break on July 5, 2020. A small number of horse handler volunteers have been coming to SE to groom and do groundwork with our horses. Our exercise riders have been keeping the horses in good condition until our riders come back to us, in the fall.
In August, our staff planned and implemented a virtual learning session for our riders. We knew our riders missed their classes, horses, and SE friends. Connection with our participants, even from a distance, is our goal, until we are together again.
Our fall 2020 therapeutic riding session will began on September 29th. The participants who needed support persons on either side used family members, or their caregivers, as sidewalkers. The addition of sidewalkers allowed us to bring back many participants who had not been able to return. We are anticipating many more participants returning with use of our own SE sidewalkers in mid-2021.
Stay safe and well,
Jan Fifer, Executive Director
and the Staff of Special Equestrians