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Equestrian Director Achieves Certification

Nancy Poston with horse
Nancy Poston, director of Lander University's Equestrian Center, with one of the center's horses. Poston recently completed a two-year study program and was certified as a therapeutic riding instructor.

Nancy Poston, director of Lander University's Equestrian Center, has been certified as a therapeutic riding instructor by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA).

The certification process was a two-year program of intensive study that included classroom learning and hands-on experience with riders and horses. In its promotional material, NARHA says a registered instructor is able to teach riding skills to individuals with disabilities.

Poston underwent a two-day certification exam at The Calvin Center in Hampton, Ga., a week ago. It consisted of a written and a riding test. She also had to design a lesson plan for a therapeutic riding client, then actually teach the lesson.

She said she could not have achieved certification without the help of Beth Wood, coordinator of Lander's therapeutic horsemanship program, and Mary Hughston, Lander's equestrian coach. Wood mentored her through classroom study and hands-on experience while Hughston taught her riding techniques. Poston is an experienced trail rider but said she needed schooling on basic riding. Wood is an occupational therapist and hippotherapy clinical specialist.

Equestrian center volunteers Mary Stoehr and Ginny Wagner of Greenwood went through the study program with Poston and they are scheduled for their certification exams in June.

Poston said the addition of certified instructors will allow the Equestrian Center to expand the therapeutic riding program and accept more clients. She said 16 individuals are enrolled now and there are several others whose names are on a waiting list.

Therapeutic riding involves using the movement of a walking horse to provide positive stimulation for children and adults with physical, cognitive and other disabilities. The Lander program, which made its debut in 2009, is offered in cooperation with Burton Center in Greenwood, where the Equestrian Center is located.

In September of 2010, the university introduced a therapeutic horsemanship minor.