Senior Connections Senior Connections Jan 2019 - Page 9

RIDING from Pg 6 “If I can relieve the staff of a mundane task, whether it is shredding paper or scanning, or whatever it might be, then I think that is really important for the organization,” Regan explained. Seniors can have a big impact at non-profi ts, where volunteer help is vital. Regan encourages seniors to be proactive and present their own talents or strengths and ask how they can be most useful. It could be serving on a fundraising committee, sewing, laundering towels, fi xing a fence, offi ce fi ling, or editing a newsletter. “We sometimes forget that seniors had a career, and many of them have expertise,” Regan added. Volunteering is also a way to remain active physically, mentally, and socially. “Some of my greatest friends are people I’ve met here,” Regan refl ected. “I think it’s healthy for me to be associated with so many people who are years younger than myself.” As an animal lover, she has also bonded with some of the horses, especially a 30-year-old Missouri Fox Trotter named Derby. “I love Derby; he is so sweet,” Regan said, with a smile. “He comes to the gate to meet you.” All the clients who take riding lessons at We Can Ride have been diagnosed with a disability or special need. Professional instructors are certifi ed, and credentialed physical and occupational therapists lead special classes, called hippotherapy – a professional therapy session that utilizes horseback riding to achieve clinical goals. “When I was growing up, anyone with a disability was sequestered in a home, or group home of some sort, or an institution,” Regan said. She believes her time helping in classes has been a positive experience, learning fi rsthand about various disabilities and how they challenge people in different ways. “There is always going to be something at We Can Ride that I can do. I’m fortunate, at 83, that I can do what I do now,” said Regan. She recently underwent shoulder surgery, and as a result, she no longer assists with some common barn tasks that are physically demanding, like moving bales of hay or lifting water buckets. “As one gets older . . . your world gets smaller because people you have known have died, because they are older, or their spouse has died, as in my case,” Regan explained. “[We Can Ride] is an organization where the words, ‘thank you,’ are probably said more often than any other word, other than ‘walk on’ or ‘whoa.’ The clients thank you, the staff thanks you, other volunteers thank you, and that’s very rewarding.” We Can Ride is currently preparing for the new year, when classes begin Saturday, Jan 5, 2019. Contact them for more information about volunteer opportunities at WeCanRide.org; We Can Ride, Inc. PO Box 463, Maple Plain, MN 55359; or 952-934- 0057. In 2001, Jackie Regan returned to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for a fi ve-day trail riding excursion through Wilderness Inquiry, and was assigned a horse named Phoenix. The horsepacking group was led by professional wranglers, and basecamp was situated at an elevation of 9,500 feet in Gunnison National Forest. PHOTO SUBMITTED BY JACKIE REGAN We Can Ride Executive Director Mary Mitten, and longtime volunteer Jackie Regan stand with Jasper, a 27-year-old Norwegian Fjord, that was donated to the program from an individual in Delano. PHOTO BY MARK MITTEN Senior Connections HJ.COM Senior Connections January 2019 9