The Orthotic and Prosthetic Assistance Fund (OPAF) and The First Clinics, along with Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center hosted a McKeever’s First Ride on Sunday, September 27 at Winslow’s North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) facilities in Warwick, New York.
Nashville recording artist Templeton Thompson and her husband Sam Gay opened the afternoon with their music and then introduced event coordinators from both OPAF and Winslow. Tony Cerminaro, PT, a transfemoral amputee, gave a barrel-racing demonstration on his horse, Dusty; and Jodie O’Connell, a below-elbow amputee, talked about returning to riding just four weeks after surgery and using riding as part of her rehabilitation. She then gave a demonstration of English riding and movement. Finally, Paddy Rossbach, former president and CEO of the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA), gave a presentation of Americana dressage on her horse Sienna, a 17-year-old Arabian.
According to OPAF, the clinic drew in 16 attendees. “We were close to our maximum number of attendees to be able to get everyone up and on horseback,” OPAF said. Participants were guided through activities including horseback riding, grooming, groundwork in the barns, and arts and crafts. “Everyone had the chance to ride, including getting the chance to trot their horse, which included a lead walker as well as two side walkers for safety,” OPAF noted.
When asked about his experience, Adhiambo Mitchell, a bilateral transfemoral amputee from New York responded, “It feels like I should be doing this three times a week!”
This clinic was initiated by John Vacca, who had attended the inaugural McKeever’s First Ride in Atlanta, Georgia, this summer and wanted to give a similar experience to people in his area. “John was instrumental in locating the Winslow facility and in recruitment of attendees and help with public relations,” OPAF said. “Management and staff at Winslow were wonderful to work with in all aspects of the planning of the event and event day.”
According to OPAF, the clinic was underwritten through the sponsorship of Touch Bionics, Livingston, Scotland; Jack Gold Surgical Appliances, Randolph, New Jersey; and Heritage Medical, Albany, New York.
For more information on how to host a First Clinic, contact 215.752.5756 or e-mail [email protected]