I am writing to you on behalf of my 7 year old twins, Adam and Alison. My son is a sweet child diagnosed with severe
Autism, sensory processing disorder, and Celiac Disease, and my beautiful daughter also has sensory processing
disorder as well as attention deficit disorder. Adam and Alison have been going to Victory Time Farm Therapeutic
Riding Inc. once a week for the past 2 years to receive equine therapy.
We travel one hour from Ottawa for this therapy, and the results have been amazing. Adam has made so many improvements with his balance, speech, gross and even fine motor skills. This has given him the confidence to give verbal commands to his beautiful riding therapist Kodak, and he has even begun to ride more independently. Viki and Paul have a wonderful accepting attitude which allows Adam to be his amazing self without stress or judgement. His anxiety melts away as he helps to brush and pet this calm horse. When he rides his body responds in a natural motion which activates the core muscles, sending the information to his brain and therefor creating more connections. This is by far the most versatile and meaningful therapy Adam has experienced and it's very important to us, especially if he could attend all year long. Alison has also developed so much more confidence and self esteem since she has been riding."
Victory Time Farm Therapeutic Riding Inc. was selected to represent the Healthy Kids Community Challenge on video that was put together highlighting all the activities that occurred during their first theme Run Jump Play Every Day.
Featured at 0.44 - 1:00
Testimonials, Editorials and More...
I grew up attending work on a farm where I spend a lot of time with horses. I love these empathetic, gorgeous animals who, back in the dawn of time, became domesticated and began to help human beings improve their lives. My world was filled with stories of remarkable horses -- especially those that "took care of their riders". That is what these horses do for our lovely daughter. At Victory Time Farm Therapeutic Riding Inc. they set individual goals for her and patiently work on skills such as speech, socialization and fitness. And, yes, one of their goals is "just pure fun."
Our family is still beaming and glowing after seeing my daughter on a horse! It is a dream come true. I have never seen her so responsive to any therapy so immediately! One of my most memorable moments was witnessing my daughter, who being on the spectrum and not open to expressing emotion, spontaneously kissed her pony. She had an immediate and strong affinity with her pony, a joy that will help open other possibilities in her life.
Dr. Temple Grandin once wrote, "I wish more kids could ride horses today. People and animals are supposed to be together. We spent quite a long time evolving together, and we used to be partners." The connection my daughter made also opened her up to speaking her mind as her first words were spoken on a horse. After that kiss, she climbed on the pony's back and said, "I like this horse." It took time, but eventually she found her voice and has been talking ever since; she was nonverbal until the age of five.
She has learned some measure of riding and horse skills, and has become quite accomplished. That feeling of accomplishment inspires all of us...and I see it in people's eyes. There is no focus on the disability, rather, it's on my daughter and the relationship between her and the horse.
I am writing on behalf of our seven year old son. He is a special needs child; deaf with cochlear implants, he struggles with communication and is considered non verbal due to severe speech Apraxia. He also has severe ADHD and has aggressive outbursts. We were introduced to therapeutic riding through funding from the Healthy Kids Community Challenge. After hearing a presentation on Victory Time Farm's Therapeutic Riding program we decided to try it -- even though I was not expecting my son to tolerate it. To our amazement he has thrived!! When he is on the horse (with an attendant by his side) he is like any other boy. He is smiling the entire session, showering affection on the horse and trainer. He is so happy. Special needs children don't typically fit into organized sports. At Victory Time Farm, my son belongs. Everyone is his friend and supporter. (This is HIS team!) All the staff show an interest in his accomplishments, even other riders cheer him on and make him feel like an important part of things.
He is learning to behave within the set limits, and to follow directions. We have seen his self confidence develop and his desire to communicate -- which is so hard due to his Apraxia. When he gets up Saturday morning and knows he is going riding -- he knows a good day is ahead.
I cannot empathize enough the important role this Therapeutic Riding Program is playing in my son's life and development.
Greenland Country Haven Horseback Riders were very fortunate to participate in your horseback riding camp this summer, August 11 -15.14. Your customer service, focus on safety, beautiful horses and your positive attention to the needs of our riders was exemplary.
Thank you so much for providing this excellent service for our riders with developmental disabilities.
Debra McLean Retired RN
Owner, Greenland Country Haven Inc.
Victoria Fuller-Bastien and Paul Bastien opened VICTORY TIME FARM in Merrickville over six years ago, where they now offer a Therapeutic Riding and Farm Experience program, providing increased opportunities for children with special needs families to participate in horseback riding, outdoor games and activities.
Q: How long have you been offering this program?
A: Victoria: We initially started out breeding horses at the farm, and for some reason it didn't go well. I guess it was because we were supposed to be working with special needs children. I was teaching at another farm and a parent approached me and asked if I would be interested in working with her child, and from there, my husband and I took an interest in special needs children. We went to Texas, to the HORSE BOY FOUNDATION and received autism training, and I had done some volunteering with therapeutic riding. For me, it evolved from there.
Paul: I've been around horses for quite a few years, and I've been around different types of children and young adults, and I found that working with special needs kids is a much more rewarding enterprise for us. We noticed the horses tend to work wonders with these children. We took it upon ourselves to proceed with that involvement. To our amazement, we had a tremendous response and dramatic successes. We are thrilled with the way things are going.
Q: What motivated you to start working with special needs children?
A: Victoria: I had worked with some special needs children as a volunteer about 10 to 15 years ago, and with my experience working in schools, I've always been drawn to children. I was involved with Girl Guides and Brownies, that sort of thing. I've always enjoyed working with children.
Q: What are the benefits of therapeutic riding?
A: Physically, there are many benefits: Better flexibility, balance, co-ordination...
Q: How can children with special needs specifically benefit from your program?
A: For children with learning disabilities or autism and so on, we find that their communication improves, their concentration is much better. It gives them activities they can cope with because generally, it's a one-on-one activity. Also, we've found that a lot of children with special needs don't do well in team sports. They may feel left out. They succeed on their own merit. We encourage a very positive attitude, we don't force them to participate. When they first come, we wait until they find a situation that works for them and the parents. A lot of these kids don't communicate well, or at all, so you really have to read their body language, much the way you do with horses.
Q: Do the children simply learn to ride and this in itself is considered therapy?
A: Victoria: For children with autism there's a lot of sensory work. Just contact with the horse can reduce cortisol in their brain which is the stress hormone, and it's greatly reduces when they actually work with the horses. In addition, the movement of hips during riding causes oxytocin to rush to the brain.
Paul: It gives them a sense of euphoria, a sense of joy. It relaxes them and they actually become quite giggly when they're on the horses. We have several children who have trouble communicating verbally, but when they've had a session or two on the horses you see them break out in huge smiles. It takes them out of that "enclosed box" they're usually in. The movement on the horse just lets the open up. It's so fantastic, and it's really the animals that do it because they are non-judgemental, and horses have a capacity to recognize a special child.
Q: How quickly do you see a change in the children?
A: Paul: With some children, the change takes a few sessions, but with others, the change is instant and dramatic.
This article appeared in the Brockville Recorder And Times, Saturday March 26, 2016
Viki and Paul
Just a note to say what a wonderful atmosphere you have created at Victory Farm. We had anticipated that it would be good, but, instead it is wonderful! With the volunteers quietly going about their care for the horses and for us visitors; your animals so comfortable with strangers; chickens running around, wild birds singing in the trees, Maddy and Lacey calmly watching over everyone, and especially yourselves so calm and welcoming. Viki you are a super teacher, encouraging our niece and giving her clear instructions, and making it extra fun with games. It was just great. The sparkly, delighted look on our niece's face told it all!
We are just delighted that you have established this riding school which is so much more than that. And we are delighted that our niece can enjoy, and benefit from it. Thank you
Mary and Paul
Thank you both for caring so much for our young daughter. She finds so much love and kindness in your company. Victory Time Farm is a precious haven for many. Thank you for embracing our daughter and including her at the farm.
How horses are helping special needs children
By Sabrina Bedford.
Q & A
Sometimes, the best therapy is being outside in the fresh air and sunshine in a farm setting, and that's exactly what Victoria Fuller-Bastien and Paul Bastien realized when they started offering equine-assisted therapy for children with special needs in Leeds-Grenville.
Victory Time Farm opened over six years ago in Merrickville, and has since found its calling of helping children by simply letting them ride horses.
The Bastien family, their 11 horses, donkey, chickens and therapy dogs all live on 20-plus acres of beautiful countryside, which includes a professional sand ring, a round pen, as well as miles of surrounding country riding trails. Their Therapeutic Riding and Farm Experience Program provides increased opportunities for children with special needs families to participate in horseback riding, outdoor games and activities.
The Recorder and Times interviewed the couple about their popular program in Leeds-Grenville for this week's Q&A feature.
Q: How long have you been riding?
A: Victoria: I've been riding for about 15 years and Paul for about 30 years.