Rohan Manian is only 4 years old, but he's already growing in confidence and self-assurance.
His communication skills are also improving. Rohan, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a student in the STAR Riding Inc. program at Hopeland Farms.
The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International affiliate has been helping people with disabilities in the CSRA since 1996. The program is expanding, and they're in need of volunteers.
There are a number of roles people can fill, if they're interested in sharing their talents, said Kim Davies, STAR Riding Inc. program coordinator.
Experienced horsemen are needed as lead and side walkers. But STAR Riding also needs volunteers to clean tack, help with office duties and write grants.
The program is also looking for another instructor, Davies said.
“If someone isn't certified, and they are a good horse person, I wouldn't mind mentoring them,” said Davies. “They have to have 20 hours of mentoring, and I will mentor them.”
The program currently has 25 students participating, and that number will grow this winter, Davies said.
Rohan's third session at STAR Riding Inc. was Oct. 10, but the program's benefits were already recognizable, according to his mother.
“He's very focused when he's on a horse,” said Prethi Manian, Rohan's mother. “When he first came to meet Kim, he was terrified of the horses. But since the first session, he's grown in confidence, and his communication skills are improving. Kim's wonderful.”
Rohan has made great strides in the short time he's been involved with the STAR Riding program.
“He's very attached to me,” said Manian. “And now when we come to the sessions, he'll go without me to get on the horse.”
For more information call 803-220-5619, or access their website at www.starriding.org.
Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.
Among the awards Baugh has won include the 2003 Raleigh Burroughs Award as the turf writer making the most impact on the Florida Thoroughbred Industry.