Jake E's Riding Round Up
About a month or two ago, I was trying to figure out how I can learn more about the agriculture industry and where I can even GO to learn about the industry. I was asking this question to my grandmother who then introduced me to a program called Jake E's Riding Round Up! She was telling me how she knew a woman who had this program that helped those, especially with mental and physical disabilities, improve their life through riding and interacting with horses. This sounded right up my alley and I knew I HAD TO SEE THIS! After getting in contact with the director, Paige Courtney, I immediately scheduled a date and arrived at what would be a PHENOMENAL ranch. With over 20 acres and 19 horses for individuals to ride and take care of, Jake E's really does impactful things for many families and veterans from all over North Texas.
This ranch all started after Ms. Jana Ewing Syvrud underwent a year losing a father, divorcing her husband, and unfortunately losing her beloved 3-year-old son, Jake Ewing, in a drowning accident in April of 2010. Janna kept praying and praying, hoping that God will show her what to do next. After some time, Jana knew God called her to open up a horse therapeutic center for anyone, especially those who were "...veterans and at-risk youth as well as elderly and special needs individuals." She immediately responded to all of those asking what they could do for her by telling them to put a hold on the flowers and come get their working hands ready! "...she wanted this to be a healing center. Not just the horses, like for anybody and everybody that comes." Paige said. After about a year, the gates to Jake E's Riding Round up opened to the public in October 2011. Ever since, the ranch has been a success and a huge supporter to all of their clientele...well, it is really just new members to their growing family.
When I say this program is like a big family, I mean it! They have individuals who were once students at the very beginning who now are full-time volunteers or workers at the ranch to this day. In their annual scrapbooks, they show themselves at livestock shows, schools, and other events their students are involved in outside of their ranch. The lives that have been changed at this ranch have been incredible, and it is all because of the horses. No treatment training, just the horses simply being themselves. Paige even noted that each patient gets to choose which horse they want to ride during the sessions and that 9 times out of 10, the individuals pick the horse that matches their personalities (without knowing ANYTHING about the horse....crazy)! What blows my mind, even more, is how these horses help in mental and physical ways (which is why they are so good for so many individuals). Jake E's provide different programs that include:
Horses and Heroes- sessions that are meant for heroes to help improve their mental and physical wellness. (These sessions are free of charge for veterans and families of a veteran thanks to the Texas Veterans Commission Fund for Veterans’ Assistance!)
Therapeutic Riding Sessions- For individuals with physical limitations that contribute "...positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs...." When I was told about this, I was curious to know how it worked. I learned that horses are the closest thing to mimicking the human gate (or walk), which can have an impact on the way the body functions. When Paige was explaining this to me, she goes into how the body has involuntary upper muscles that are exercised when walking; however, if individuals have legs that do not function, they cannot exercise their upper body (arms, core, back, neck, etc.). When doing these sessions, they can then use the horse to mimick the individual's legs, where they can use different activities and exercises that help with gaining upper body strength. After a number of sessions, individuals can see the results of these sessions by seeing individuals use specific actions that they have never been able to use (things that many of us take for granted; for example, being able to sit up by themselves).
Equine Facilitated Mental Health and Learning (EFMHL)- this is a program for those that want to improve their mental wellness through therapy where you have your therapist, an equine expert, and an equine with you. Sometimes, certain individuals can be hard to read or they won't speak at all, which makes it challenging to diagnose anything. So what is great about these sessions is that horses are, as Paige worded it, human lie detectors. A typical human exercises their left side of the brain (verbal communications) compared to our right (physical communication). However, horses are the exact opposite, where they observe everything and take into consideration all the physical actions and movements around them. A horse's nervous system is 20x larger than humans, so they can literally feel the changes in our emotions and smell the different hormones we give off like its nothing! When an individual approaches a horse, these horses can smell and feel that people are unable to pick up. Because of that, the horse will react to it because they know something is off. That is where the equine specialist comes in and they can communicate to your therapist on what is going on based on reading the horse's reaction. It is CRAZY how nature works!
If you were wondering how this program can be up and running with all the expenses and costs...it is all because of the volunteers and donations! Paige mentioned that about 80% of the program runs off of volunteering, grants, and donations (even the horses have been rescued or donated). Anyone can sign up to be a volunteer, and after the process of registering and getting approved, you can do almost ANYTHING you want on the ranch (they don't put you anywhere you would be uncomfortable). You can do anything from working inside, feeding the horses, helping with sessions, or even just repainting the front of the welcome center (and much more)! Jake E's has emphasized how important their volunteers are and they are open to expanding their family still! To sign up, you can find all of your information in the link at the bottom of this article!
Thank you again, Paige and Jake E's Riding Round Up, for opening up your ranch to me and teaching me something extraordinary! It is truly amazing what agriculture can do and this program is what makes it as awesome as it is! Below are the links from their website where you can find more information about their programs, volunteering opportunities, and background!
Thanks for reading and go local!
Jake E's Riding Round Up- https://www.jakeesrr.org/
Jana's Testimony- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IaMMy6Z4fQ&feature=emb_logo