Equine therapy centre near Saskatoon hopes to reopen soon as business takes a hit over COVID-19

Coronavirus: Equine therapy centre hoping to get back in the saddle soon
WATCH: The Equilibrium Therapeutic Riding Centre connects horses and their riders as part of therapy programs. COVID-19 has put that on hold for now.

The Equilibrium Therapeutic Riding Centre, located north of Saskatoon just off Highway 11, hopes to resume its normal activities soon, as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted its business.

Erin McCormick, owner of the riding centre, says she is currently able to offer one-on-one services, meaning those who can handle a horse without any help are able to continue visiting Equilibrium. That’s about 25 per cent of her business, she says.

At the centre, which has been around for nearly three decades, horses are typically paired with dozens of kids and adults, with weekly or biweekly programs tailored to meet a rider’s needs.

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“You utilize the horse, the movement of the horse to improve various disabilities, including cognitive and physical disabilities,” McCormick explained.

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McCormick says social distancing between riders is already being followed at the facility and that it meets the criteria to be allowed to reopen.

However, in an email sent to her from a business response team for the government of Saskatchewan, it was stated she would be allowed to deliver her services in a one-on-one environment with no contact. All other aspects would have to wait until a later time.

Equine therapy, she said, is often misunderstood, saying it’s not just people riding around on a horse, it’s a means of treatment for people to regain a semblance of stability in their lives.

Equine therapy can help to develop social and physical skills and also provide relief for aches and pains.

“Horseback riding allows me to exercise my hip and my knee,” said Kassie Stadnyk, a participant for nine years who has been receiving therapy with her horse, Jordie.

Her mom, Korrina Stadnyk, says riding a horse every week has allowed Kassie to go nearly two years with hip dysplasia, which would otherwise require surgery.

“It covers so many bases, it’s cost-effective, and the kids get so much more out of it being with animals, being around each other,” Korrina said.

Stable owner looking for clarity for reopening after COVID-19
Stable owner looking for clarity for reopening after COVID-19

Kassie’s sister, Lena, also uses the centre for therapy.

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Korrina adds that in many ways, using the therapy centre is more helpful for her daughter’s treatment as the therapy is limitless.

There are 14 horses at the centre, and each of them is assigned a rider.

“They all belong to students of mine, so some actually have been with us long enough they have their own horse,” McCormick said.

“The majority of them are what we call schooled, and those are horses that are workhorses.”

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McCormick adds that the centre has a limit of roughly 100 riders.

She says the centre will continue to follow social-distancing measures put in place before the pandemic, as well as continue to sanitize all facilities and equipment.

Group lessons and clinics will have to wait until a later phase in the Reopen Saskatchewan plan, which she believes will be Phase 4.

She says the centre will continue to operate at or near the same capacity once it reopens, which she hopes is sooner rather than later.

She adds that a hurdle Equilibrium will face is using her own money to cover the cost of the overhead such as maintaining the well-being of the horses.

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