Who are you?
Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association (KTRA) is a not-for-profit registered charity.
Can you tell us a little about your organization?
KTRA offers therapeutic horseback riding lessons to youth and adults with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities as well as therapeutic groundwork with horses for youth-at-risk in our community. Through therapeutic riding lessons, clients form bonds with horses that help them to process feelings, gain skills and ameliorate fears. It is one of the very few special recreational activities for those with disabilities in the Thompson Nicola Cariboo region. Through equine-assisted lessons, riders’ bodies are rhythmically moved in a manner like our human gait which helps riders improve their flexibility, balance, and muscle strength to name only a few of the many benefits. Clients learn equestrian skills while building muscle strength, balance, and a sense of freedom while working on various patterns and obstacle courses suited to each rider. Therapeutic riding offers clients in this program the ability to increase their capacity for socialization, enhance sensory processing ability, and it has been noted that it results in an overall decrease in symptom severity. Clients learn equestrian skills while learning how to interact effectively with instructors, volunteers, other riders, and their equine partners.
How long has your organization been active and operating?
KTRA was formed in 1988. We have been operating in various capacities for 33 years.
Where is your home base?
KTRA leases 10 acres from the Kamloops Airport in Brock.
Describe your riders in one word.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments or achievements
as an organization that you would like to highlight?
We are extremely excited to announce that we are currently the only recognized Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International Center Member in Western Canada! Something in progress that we are also excited to hopefully accomplish/achieve is – we have three riders that are working hard to qualify for the 2022 BC Summer Games in Prince George in Para-Dressage.
What has KTRA been working on lately?
Our strategic plan is based on four pillars of excellence. Organizational excellence is focused on our governance structure, policies, HR structure and processes, legal and compliance issues, membership, and strategic direction. Community engagement includes assessing our community profile, maintenance, and expansion of partnerships, increasing the success of our grant submissions, and giving back to the community. Making a difference includes improvements to our programs, client, parent, and volunteer enrichment. Sustainability is key to the ongoing success of the KTRA programs and includes assessing our mix of social enterprise activities and our core programs to ensure our plans are achieved and funding uncertainty is well mitigated.
What is an inspiring moment that you have
witnessed from one of your riders?
The pure joy that is spread across their face with the largest smile when they progress – even if it is just overcoming their smallest hurdle.
What are some of KTRA’s future goals?
We are continuously working on improving our programs and the quality of lessons that we provide for our riders. Our instructors work hard to be certified and stay current and up to date with the evolving education within our field.
Who are some volunteers that you would like to highlight
in your community for their work and dedication?
Sandy VanCamp will be turning 80 this year, he volunteers at KTRA every morning helping feed the horses and keeping our facility in tip-top shape. Sandy has volunteered at KTRA for over 12 years. He also picks up all the grain for the horses that we purchase from Purity Feed and The Horse Barn. Things here would not run as smoothly as they do without Sandy, we truly appreciate his dedication and hard work. Also, to all our volunteers who help get horses ready for lessons and so much more and have been patient with us through this Covid-19 journey. It means so much that you stick with us and are so flexible.
How can people become more involved with the KTRA?
Fill out a volunteer application HERE.
If you are unable to volunteer, you could consider sponsoring a horse. More information can be found HERE.
Tell us something that not everyone would know about the KTRA?
A Therapy Horse is the most important asset to any Therapeutic Riding program. Not just “any horse” can be a Therapy Horse. A Therapy Horse must be safe, sound, patient, and willing. Our horses bare more than just the weight of the rider on their back - they also carry the struggles, the joy, the fear, and the triumph of their riders as they overcome hurdles in the arena and in their everyday life. Horses have a unique way of connecting with people and are extremely sensitive to emotions and body language which make them the perfect teacher for any individual.
What do you think makes Kamloops such a great and active community?
People in Kamloops have the largest hearts – always looking for a way to help and support important community organizations whether it be through volunteering time or volunteering a service, equipment or supplies, or even just monetary.
How do people connect with KTRA to learn more and get involved?
Follow #nalasjourney on Instagram and Facebook. We do also have a blog
. Who is Nala? Nala is our new program horse! Nala was purchased by KTRA from Asher Lorette (one of our weekend Community Riding Lessons Instructor). Nala is a 3 year old registered Haflinger mare. She is the first horse that KTRA has purchased! (KTRA mostly uses donated horses and “free-leased” horses) KTRA has made the decision to purchase a younger horse to bring up in the program as opposed to purchasing an older horse that has already had a career. Our hope is that Nala will have great longevity in our program and “pave the way” for future potential Therapy Horses. KTRA has often been offered older/retired horses for our Therapeutic Riding Program, but we have found that they have a higher “burnout” and “turn-over” rate because they have already spent most of their life working hard in another career such as jumping, dressage, rodeo or ranching. Having Nala in our care from such a young age will ensure that we know her history and will be able to help her have a promising future!