Chithra Rogers, following her combined passion for horses and children, is bringing awareness to kids with special needs in her home country of Singapore, and the Equicizer is being used as a main component in the development of this ground breaking project. We're excited to feature Chithra and tell her story as she continues to help children and forge new pathways in Singapore, inspiring people on a now global level. (Pictured left, Chithra with her mentor, Wendy Torr - OAM Chairperson RDA NSW [Riding for the Disabled Association, New South Wales] Coaching and Safety Panel)
Chithra was born in her native Singapore, but fueled by an interest in horse racing, she flew to Brisbane, Australia in 2002 to attain holistic knowledge about race horses in both theoretical and practical aspects at the Australian Racing Institute. Upon completing her apprenticeship as a jockey, she returned to Singapore and joined the racing industry as a Trainee Apprentice Jockey. After realizing more of the risks involved in riding racehorses through personal experience, she changed course and left for Melbourne, Australia in 2006 to pursue a career in training. While there, she became a stable manager and volunteered at the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association).
As time went by, in 2008, after moving back to Singapore and working as an assistant trainer, she made the tough decision to leave the racing industry for good. Her passion for horses was as strong as it had ever been, and through her volunteering at various therapeutic riding programs over the years, she had discovered a second passion which was equally as strong – raising awareness for children with special needs.
Dedicated to educating herself as much as possible, Chithra pursued her studies in Learning Disorders Management and Child Psychology. While pursuing her studies she also worked closely with mild to severe cases of Autistic Children at a reputable special needs school in Singapore. At present, she is due to complete her studies in Special Education. Working with her Mentor, she stays informed on the latest interventions, allowing her to continue to polish her skills and knowledge.
About 3 years ago, Chithra started a quest to purchase land for a therapeutic riding center of her own. This has proved to be a very difficult task, due to the shortage of land available in Singapore. After 2+ years and much struggle, including petitions to the government from parents of special needs children, she is still awaiting approval to purchase the land needed.
In the meantime, Chithra approached many existing riding schools, sharing her vision and hoping to lease space to start her program. Surprisingly, this has proved to be another difficult task and after finding one such temporary place and holding lessons under the organization she founded, “Healing Horses Singapore”, things went south and others began trying to implement her ideas on their own.
Chithra strongly believes that the earlier children can begin therapy, the more beneficial it will be for them and the more positive the outcome in reaching them successfully. In Singapore, the starting age for children to begin horseback riding as a form of therapy is limited to 6 years and older, so Chithra began work on another project as she continues to wait for land purchase approval. After discovering the Equicizer, she decided to open up a multi-sensory play center under the Healing Horses Singapore program.
Healing Horses Singapore, a privately owned not-for-profit organization mainly focusing on early intervention for young children, is now Singapore’s first indoor therapeutic horse riding training organization catering to children with special needs up to teenagers, using the Equicizer as the primary tool.
Due to the difficulty in getting land approved in Singapore and the age restrictions for beginning therapy on real horses, the Equicizer is a key part of Chithra’s mission. With the Equicizer, Chithra is able to service students much younger than she otherwise would be able to and she is already building up a strong clientele of students, who come for sessions on the Equicizer, and are seeing incredible results in a very short span of time. We look forward to following Chithra's progress with the Equicizer through the development of Healing Horses Singapore. Check out their facebook page for updates!
Tell us your story and let us know how your Equicizer has changed a life! Stories can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and with your consent, may be selected as one of our next blog features!
Project R.I.D.E. Inc.
, (Riding Instruction Designed for Education), is a Premier Accredited PATH International Center
that provides recreational horseback riding instruction to over 500 children and adults with special needs. Serving in the greater Sacramento CA metropolitan area, Project R.I.D.E. Inc., provides mounted lessons, non-mounted lessons, and special lessons on our amazing custom-made Equicizer, “Stella.”
Stella is a wonderful way to introduce new or fearful students to our therapeutic riding program, and can even help develop advanced skills in independent riders. In fact, some of our riders have become so fond of “Stella” that they prefer riding her over the actual horses! Stella is beloved by our students because she is beautiful, approachable, smaller than an actual horse, easy to mount and dismount, and FUN to ride. The staff love her because she is the best behaved equine in the barn. She doesn’t make a mess, she doesn’t spook, and she’s an easy keeper!
At Project R.I.D.E. Inc., we use Stella with new students, fragile students we cannot place into mounted lessons, and students who exceed the weight limit of our horses. We also use her for advanced riding students working on specific riding techniques like a posting trot or two point position. Sometimes the staff even rides Stella on their lunch break for a great core workout.
Meet one of our very special students… Sophia. Sophia struggles to walk on her own and needs help to support her body. When she first started at Project R.I.D.E. Inc., Sophia was unable to stretch her legs around a real horse or even hold her body and head up. She wasn’t ready to ride a real horse in our program and needed a way to get stronger first. Her therapeutic riding instructor, Lauren,
suggested she start out on Stella. “I knew immediately that I was going to get this beautiful girl on a real horse someday, and I knew exactly where to start. Our Equicizer!” claims Lauren.
Sophia began riding the Equicizer twice a week with Lauren and results began to show. Her core seemed stronger, she was able to stretch her legs around the Equicizer, and was beginning to hold her head up independently.
A little over a year after Sophia began riding the Equicizer she was ready to try the real thing. She is now riding a horse with support and continuing to work on her strength. Recently, she did something miraculous- Sophia took her first steps in school. This was something her doctors never thought she’d be able to do. If it wasn’t for a combination of things in Sophia’s life, including the Equicizer, she might not have achieved this. Sophia is one of many students who have benefitted from the Equicizer. Stella is so important to our program that a custom tent was made for her lessons which includes a disco ball, so we can dance and listen to music while students ride her. We are so thankful that Project R.I.D.E. Inc., is able to have an Equicizer as an integral part of our program.
About the Author:
Lauren Bender is a PATH International Advanced Instructor and California native who attended Centenary College in NJ to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies. She knew that she was going to work in her dream career as a therapeutic riding instructor. She now works for Project R.I.D.E. Inc., and has been there for about 3 ½ years. Currently, she teaches over 90 riders a week.
To learn more about Project R.I.D.E. or make a donation, visit: projectride.org
Photos courtesy of Project R.I.D.E Inc., Lauren Bender and DL Cunningham Photography
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In early June, 16-year-old Para-Equestrian and Equicizer owner Sydney Collier was among 23 other horse and rider combinations who competed in the World Equestrian Games U.S Para-Dressage Selection Trials at the USET headquarters in Gladstone, NJ for a chance to compete at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in France later this year. Shortly after, Syd was notified that she had been chosen to be on the para-equestrian team representing the US. The path to get to this point has taken Syd and her family - specifically her mother, Anna Collier, who travels with her - all over the country competing and preparing for this moment.
In 2012 Syd qualified at the National level but was then too young to be included in the Selection Trials for the London Paralympics. Over the last three years she has competed in six CPEDI3* competitions and over 20 USDF/USEF recognized shows all in preparation to compete to be on the para-equestrian team at this year's World Equestrian Games. Her Equicizer, Wyburn, has also been an essential part of her training regiment.
To learn more how Sydney uses her Equicizer, -click here-
(Photo Right: Sydney is often invited to speak at engagements where she inspires countless others. Shown here, Syd and her Equicizer Wyburn at the Hidden Hollow Farm Riding Center Spring Gala at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel.)
Syd also earned the Jonathan Wentz Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2014 as she prepared for the Selection Trials. This fund goes "toward assisting USA Para- Dressage High Performance Young Riders (ages 16-25 within the competition year), who are actively competing in 3* and above International Para-Dressage competitions, and have qualified for the U.S. Young Rider Para-Equestrian Championships. Funds are awarded to help offset competition expenses up to $1,000.00 per competition to help cover entry and other fees including stabling and/or shipping (must be greater than 500 miles one way) costs for competition."
(Photo Above Left: Syd after the World Equestrian Games U.S Para-Dressage Selection Trials at the USET headquarters in Gladstone, NJ.)
Syd's ultimate goal is to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It's been a long but rewarding journey for Syd and one that doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon.
If you would like to support Syd on her trip, you can check out her website: www.sydsparaquest.com and while you're at it, give her facebook page a "like" to stay up to date with all of Syd's current happenings leading up to the World Equestrian Games!
Here is a slideshow we have made to show some of Syd's journey!
About Physical Therapist & Equicizer Owner Brent Applegate!
Brent Applegate is a physical therapist and horse enthusiast who grew up on a Texas farm, but it wasn’t until his preparation for physical therapy school years later that he became reacquainted with horses through the largely unknown world of ‘hippotherapy’.
My Heroes, llc.
After five years of working as a clinical therapist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, he was asked to begin a hippotherapy program for them and hasn’t looked back since. In 2005 Brent started My Heroes, llc. at Chastain Horse Park in Atlanta, GA and it is now a staple in the community. My Heroes offers a number of services including occupational therapy, home based therapy, and special "diagnosis specific" camps and programs to special needs riders of all ages.
How Their Equicizer Is Used
Brent is a big fan of the Equicizer and uses it extensively throughout his program. Says Brent, "I use the Equicizer regularly for a variety of purposes in our clinical sessions. I use it as a stepping stone to getting on a live horse for patients who are first time horse riders or are just anxious about riding a horse for the first time. I use it to practice vaulting or other higher-level transitional movements prior to attempting them on a live horse. And I use it when I want to ride tandem with a rider so I can be more hands-on and provide more hands-on stabilization."
In the fall of 2011, Brent moved his family to the front range of Colorado to begin a second program at the Equine Center at Colorado State University. "My first rider in Colorado was a lifelong cowboy who had been in a car accident and suffered a spinal cord injury," states Brent. "He was wheelchair-bound and never thought he would ride a horse again, but after six months of training on the Equicizer his trunk grew strong enough and he was able to get on horseback and maintain his balance and posture with no problem at all. That was a very special day. For all of us."
To learn more about Brent Applegate and his organization, please visit: http://www.myheroestherapy.com/ You can also find them on facebook by clicking here!
Click here to go to our archives and browse through past Equicizer articles!
About Horseman & Equicizer Owner Steve Lantvit!
Steven Lantvit is an award-winning instructor, full-time Equine professional trainer, and becoming one of the hottest new clinicians in the nation. Steve's goals are to contribute to the betterment of the relationships between man/woman and horse instilling "Confidence, Knowledge, Respect & Safety".
Steve's background started from English disciplines such as polo and jumping and has expanded greatly over nearly 2 decades to include the western disciplines. With a wide array of experiences across both disciplines, his focus on training is that of all around horsemanship and the creation of the versatile horse.
Steve's -DVD- With the Equicizer
Steve has been a huge Equicizer fan and supporter since he was first introduced to the Equicizer with Sandy and Frankie Lovato in 2008. Since then, Steve has incorporated using the Equicizer for lessons, clinics and show demos. The Equicizer played a major role in Steve's 2 -DVD- set named "Sure In The Saddle" Click here to learn more about Steve's DVD with the Equicizer!
Steve's TV Shows
Steve's popularity and horsemanship lead to his success in launching his TV series "Sure In The Saddle" which is now airing on both RFD-TV and RuralTV/FamilyNet. Visit: SteveLantvit.com
for show times and learn more about Steve, his amazing clinics and his beautiful Highgrove Farm!
Watch "Sure In The Saddle" Promo
All athletes have a means to train and practice their skills, so why not Equestrians? If you are a cyclist, you can have a stationary bike in your home. Baseball players have batting cages, boxers have punching bags and golfers have driving ranges. So if you're a horseback rider, wouldn't you want something that simulates riding? Something you can improve overall fitness and practice skills on? After all, horseback riders are athletes too!
Treadmills, exercise bikes, and other exercise machines offer great exercise in general. But they do not necessarily work your core or the important muscles you specifically need to ride a horse. So what’s the answer for horseback riders who want to improve their fitness but also build those key muscle groups that are so important for riders? The Equicizer™ is a mechanical horse that horseback riders can use to exercise, improve fitness, rehab from an injury, and train on in preparation for “riding real horses.”
The really neat thing about the Equicizer is that there is no motor or no electricity needed, there is nothing that needs to be charged or plugged in for power - the rider is the motor!
So how does this work? When you’re seated on the Equicizer™, you push and tilt your hips forward in a rhythmic manner. This action puts the Equicizer into motion. Gently riding in this manner creates the sensation of a horse walking. If you were to watch a rider’s seat on a real horse while the horse was walking, you’d see the same forward rhythmic movement in the rider’s hips. The only difference is that a real horse is doing the work for you. You can also do exercises standing in the stirrups in the two point position, the way in which jockeys ride and create a rhythm and motion by pushing on the neck.
The best part is that you don’t have to ride the Equicizer™ fast to gain good healthy exercise. Being able to ride it slowly and gently enables people of all ages and level of abilities to ride and exercise. What makes the Equicizer extra special is that people with injuries or disabilities that may not be able to use traditional exercise equipment can ride the Equicizer™! Even if a rider needs a spotter or helper to easily generate the Equicizer's motion, a passive rider will still get a safe, soothing, gentle all around effective exercise.
The Equicizer enables users to perform core, abdomen, back, and leg exercise that address those specific muscles you so desperately need to ride a horse. Now you can improve your position, suppleness, flexibility, core strength and fitness, while doing ‘perfect practice’ in the comfort of your home, business or barn.
The Equicizer has been featured on national TV shows and in popular films; the Equcizier™ provides a way for equestrians to exercises like nothing else can. Thousands of Equciziers™ are used by equine athletes around the world to those with severe disabilities, novices, and those whom may have never ridden a horse in their lives!
Where you may see an Equicizer?
Dressage, Hunter/Jumper, Western Pleasure, Endurance, Vaulting, Polo, Racing, Riding Instructors, Film Making Special Effects, Museums, Private Homes, Weight Loss, Rehabilitation Centers, Therapeutic Riding Programs, Hippotherapy programs, Message Therapy, General Exercise, Horse Lover's, Novelty, and Fun!
That the Equicizer was initially created in 1982 by an award-winning jockey Frankie Lovato Jr, as a tool to rehabilitate from a racing accident. Soon after, the Equicizer became a must for jockeys and a household name in horse racing since the 90's. Now the Equicizer is being recognized for it's benefits and is used by all riders of every discipline including those with disabilities and special therapies, building strength, skill, balance, flexibility, fitness and confidence. The Equicizer is and remains the # 1 mechanical horse world wide.