Claire Pollard moved to Moore County about ten years ago and has been a part of the equestrian community since she was seven years old. Once she began riding, she knew she had found her calling.
After graduating high school, Claire went to St. Andrews University in Laurenburg to study Therapeutic Horsemanship and Equine Business Management.
Today, Claire is a Program Director, Barn Manager, and Instructor at Prancing Horse for Therapeutic Horsemanship located in Hoffman.
Prancing Horse provides therapeutic riding that caters to the needs of individuals ages four and up who may have autism, Down syndrome, or developmental delays. They are also building a riding program for veterans.
Claire Pollard and Susan Price, another Prancing Horse instructor, are both certified instructors of PATHI (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International).
Prancing Horse is the only therapeutic riding facility of its kind in Moore County. At Prancing Horse, instructors take the needs of an individual and tailor the riding lessons to meet those needs.
For example, if working with a non-verbal rider who is working on communication, the instructors may provide a lesson that helps the rider to improve communication with both the horse and the instructor.
In addition to teaching riding skills, Prancing Horse also helps individuals to work on improving balance, coordination, and empathy.
“I get to help people with horses,” Claire said. “I’m putting my two passions together.”
Claire’s favorite part of her work is when a rider makes progress during a lesson.
“They start to get something or make progress and figure it out. They have pride and excitement,” Claire explained.
One non-verbal rider said, “Walk on,” to the horse during a lesson. The instructor and volunteers celebrated as it was a huge step for that rider.
For riders who are unable to begin riding solo, volunteers lead the horse and walk on either side while riders perform their lesson.
“We have several volunteers from Seven Lakes,” Claire explained.
Volunteers may be trained to help with riding sessions or can help with one of the Prancing Horse committees.
There are also volunteers who help in the Prancing Horse tack shop called “A Bit Used” which is located at 5485 US 1 South in Vass. All of the proceeds go towards the Prancing Horse programs.
One volunteer, Claudia Cole, has been working with Prancing Horse for four years.
“I came for the horses, but I stayed for the kids,” Claudia said. “They are so special, and the adults, too.”
Prancing Horse for Therapeutic Horsemanship is a non-profit that runs on donations and grants. To help support Prancing Horse, donations may be mailed to PO Box 327, Southern Pines 28388.
To learn more about Prancing Horse or to inquire about volunteer opportunities, call (910) 281-3223 or email email@example.com. Be sure to also check their website at www.prancing-horse.org and “Like” their Facebook page at Facebok.com/PrancingHorseInTheSandhills.