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Meet Tim Howells of Taras Chance Equine Therapy Center in Fullerton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tim Howells.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Established in November 2012, Tara’s Chance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community-based organization dedicated to promoting the physical, cognitive and social well-being of children and youth with special needs through individualized treatment in the form of equine therapy and horse-related activities.

Children with special needs from all over Southern California come once per week to Fullerton, CA. for 30-minute therapeutic riding sessions. Children do physical exercises while on the horse and other activities to address their physical or learning disability based on the individual needs of each child. While we know that therapeutic riding is a potent form of physical and emotional therapy, the children see it a s fun.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There are gaps in services of this type in our communities as witnessed by our growing waiting list of thirty-three (33) families. Tara’s Chance serves thirty-five (35) individuals, ages 4 – 33, who have a variety of disabilities including autism, learning disabilities, Spinal Bifida, Cerebral Palsy and Tuberous Sclerosis to name a few.

Taras Chance Equine Therapy Center – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Equine Horse Therapy provides multi-dimensional movement which is variable, rhythmic as well as repetitive. The horse provides a dynamic base of support, making it an excellent source for improving the rider’s trunk strength, control, balance, overall postural strength and endurance. The results usually include greater coordination, respiratory control, and attention skills. Furthermore, many of the riders enjoy additional emotional and psychological benefits, including reduction in anxiety, depression, increase in empowerment and confidence.

While we know that therapeutic riding is a potent form of physical and emotional therapy, the children see it as fun. These children, who typically cannot participate in soccer games or ballet performances, can, through equestrian activities, feel enabled not only to make extraordinary physical, cognitive, and emotional changes but also feel accomplished because they participate and succeed in a real sport and take pride in performing for family and friends.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Equine Assisted Activity program participants achieve the following objectives:

1. Improve cognitive function through the development of an emotional connection to the horse through meeting and mounting the horse, following directions, concentration, and focusing attention.

2. Improve physical ability through caring for and learning to ride the horse with fine and gross motor skill development through grooming, tacking up, leaning, mounting and while riding, throwing, catching, rings, etc. Additional improvements include muscle tone development, increased balance and coordination through riding and vaulting exercises.

3. Improve social behavior through horse riding and program participation to reduce stimming and fulfill sensory needs through riding while increased patience and self-regulation. In addition to horse riding, supplementary program activities will further reinforce the development of cognitive, physical, and behavioral skills of students. These additional activities include horse painting, horse leading and grooming.

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