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VTRA Stories

Sean, riding student

Sean Cosgrave has been a VTRA for over 10 years participating in both adaptive riding and stable management programs. The benefits of the programs are many including Sean’s confidence that grew by the natural bond between horse and rider. The instructors gave Sean the tools to be comfortable with the horses and how to look after them. Sean also liked interacting with VTRA staff and the companionship that comes from weekly lessons. He also likes the celebration events including Christmas and the annual horse show since it allows him to show family and friends how well he has advanced. This gives him pride from these accomplishments.  

Sara, riding student

"I’ve been going to the Victoria Therapeutic Riding Association (VTRA) for almost a decade now.  Eleven years ago, I sustained a head injury that left me with substantial physical disabilities.  Over the past years, I have tried numerous therapies in hope to ameliorate my mobility.  The only therapy I continue and has not fallen to the wayside is the VTRA.  It encompasses multiple therapies at once: physical - it strengthens my legs, improves my balance and proprioception as I strive to sit straight in the saddle; occupational - I learn new skills every time I go; mental - there is something about the community that is a solace to me.  The significant trauma in my life has left me with days so full of despair and anger it’s breath-taking. When I have gone there in that state, I come away calm and renewed, after just an hour.  The environment there is so unequivocally supportive, accepting and positive.  The warmth and encouragement of the staff and volunteers is above reproach.  The horses are amazingly patient, well cared for, incredibly trained and are so unbelievably intuitive. I am so thankful for that place. I have a better-quality life because that organization exists."

Dawne, mom to participant

November 14, 2022

To whom it may concern,

My daughter was introduced to VTRA by The Phoenix Group, now known as Thrive. There was a 1-2 year wait list to be seen by the Phoenix Group. Once in, I was told that my daughter was not functioning in their small group sessions and needed one-on-one support. After another wait, my daughter gained the 1-on-1 support who recommended VTRA. They suggested this because I described my daughter as an animal whisperer. She did not socialize with people yet had/has a tender heart for animals.

Little did I know how VTRA would open my child to her surroundings. As a single working parent, I rarely get to take my daughter to VTRA. The transition after the first to then the 9th visit was life-changing. The first visit my daughter was her usual non-verbal self yet on the 9th visit my daughter got out of the car and initiated or at least responded to conversation with VTRA staff. This is something she would have never done before; spontaneous conversation. Since being introduced to VTRA, S. is more communicative, has a desire and reason to live for, and shares some laughs with people. VTRA has saved our home and this young teenager. The staff at VTRA are knowledgeable not only about horses but how to give a teenager with autism a passion to live for something (horses) and a willingness to share experiences and laughter with others. Finally something S. connects with! Without S's autism funding as payment for VTRA, I would have never been able to manage this life changing experience. S. lives for VTRA.

A forever grateful VTRA client parent.

Monica, mom to participant

My son (9 years old), who is autistic, has been riding and doing stable management at VTRA since he was six. Being able to participate with VTRA is a blessing and we are truly thankful for the programs they offer. My son has grown tremendously not only in his self confidence but his social skills as well. Not only is he given the opportunity to be with some of the most incredible animals we have met ,whom he loves dearly, but he is also surrounded by a wonderful group of staff and volunteers who truly make VTRA such a special place. My other son who is 7 (severe anxiety and ADHD) has started participating and it has allowed him a safe space to be free of his worries, surrounded by the wonderful horses and supportive staff and volunteers. VTRA holds a special place in our hearts and always will.

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