ISBVI Students Take Part in Agape Therapeutic Riding Program
By: Seth Johnson
Throughout the 2023 spring semester, ISBVI students visited Agape Therapeutic Riding in Cicero, Ind., where they took part in various equine-assisted programs.
Founded in 1994, Agape Therapeutic Riding teaches horseback riding and horsemanship skills to meet the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive goals of everyone they serve. Made possible by a donation to the Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation from the parents and grandparents of Zoey Krier, a current ISBVI student, ISBVI classes of Pre-K through fifth grade students (all skill levels), as well as middle and high school life skill students, made three visits each to Agape Therapeutic Riding, allowing the students to build relationships with the horses while also growing towards being their best selves.
A third grade teacher at ISBVI, Tara Abella says her students developed strong bonds with the horses at Agape.
“The kids had a really great time — they really enjoyed riding the horses,” Abella says. “They were really excited and asking if they could ride that same horse again the next time.”
For many of the ISBVI students who took part in the Agape Therapeutic Riding visits, it was the first time they had ever ridden a horse.
“I really appreciate the donor who gave the funding so that they could go more than once because the students really wanted to continue the relationships with the horses that they had,” Abella says. “They just had a really great time because a lot of these kids don’t have these kinds of opportunities.”
A middle and high school life skills teacher at ISBVI, Tami Purkey says the Agape staff did an excellent job of working with her students.
“They were very helpful,” Purkey says. “The ladies there made every type of accommodation that was possible.”
Purkey was particularly impressed with the growth in confidence she saw from one of her students while he was at Agape Therapeutic Riding.
“We went to the State Fair at the beginning of the year, and one of my students wouldn’t touch the animals,” Purkey says. “The first time he was there [at Agape], he got on a horse and road it. So, it was a huge accomplishment for him to be on the horse. I thought that was so cool.”
Now that her students have completed their three sessions at Agape Therapeutic Riding, Purkey hopes they can return to the facility and meet with the horses again someday.
“They really enjoyed the horseback riding and would love to do it again,” Purkey says. “They definitely enjoyed themselves enough to want to do it more.”