This article was written by our Executive Director, Angie Fusco, and is available on the All Kinds of Therapy website. By way of introduction, I will tell you that RIIT stands for “Riding Instructors in Training.” Here at Auldern, we are forever searching for, and finding, opportunities that inspire our students to reach deeper and higher within themselves to learn, take part, serve, and have fun. The Keeyauwee Program Center (KPC) in nearby Sophia has provided a wealth of opportunities for our students to explore themselves, to pursue their interests, to learn more about the world and each other, and to give back to the community at the same time. The Circle C Equestrian Center at KPC allows some of our students to work with horses and teach young Girl Scouts many skills, reinforcing our students’ learning as well. It is a lot of hard work AND fun! Enjoy Ms. Fusco’s account:
For the last year, on almost any given Saturday, the horse barn at the Circle “C” Equestrian Center was filled with the neighing of horses, the giggles of little girls and the hustle and bustle of the “RIIT’S” from Auldern Academy. They spent their time grooming and tacking horses; all in preparation for a day of leading young girl scouts through a variety of horseback riding programs. Throughout the past year, a group of students from Auldern Academy have played an integral part in helping to facilitate weekend horseback programs at the Circle C Equestrian Center at Keyauwee Program Center in Sophia, North Carolina.
Each weekend the Riding Instructors in Training or “RIITS” from Auldern learned and practiced horsemanship and teaching skills while grooming, tacking, leading and assisting the Horse Instructor during a variety of horseback lessons. The students shared their love and enthusiasm for all things horse related, by aiding the Horse Instructor and the participating girls scouts during mounted and un-mounted riding and barn lessons, and they experienced first-hand what it takes to care for a horse, by helping with feeding, grooming and barn chores. In return for their services, the RIITs traded their volunteer hours for riding time and attended other RIIT events and learning opportunities throughout the school year.
Cathy Thacker, Outdoor Program Specialist at Circle C said, “The Auldern students have been a great addition to our RIIT program. Their work ethic, coupled with their wonderful patience and excellent communication skills made such a positive impact on our programming this year. They were a huge help with programs, horse care and barn chores. I couldn’t have asked for better RIITS.”
Auldern students will soon begin their second year of service with KPC and the Circle C Equestrian Center on September 8th when they participate in an intensive one-day RIIT training in-service. What a great year 2017/2018 was for the RIITS from Auldern! The students were grateful for the opportunities they were given and they are excited for what next year will bring at the Circle C Equestrian Center.