Goshen County kids visit Buckboard Therapeutic Riding Academy
GERING — The day was a year in the making, but special needs students in the Goshen County, Wyoming, School District were in Gering Friday to enjoy a morning of riding at the Buckboard Therapeutic Riding Academy.
Buckboard owner Kathy Gatch said about a year ago she got a call from Craig Schadwinkel, the adaptive physical education instructor for Goshen County Schools. He was wondering if Buckboard could schedule a special day for his students once the academy moved into its new indoor arena.
“I knew it would work,” Gatch said. “It benefits the children and opens up awareness of our program to the Torrington area. It lets the parents know we’re here to serve their children in the therapy riding area.”
Twenty-three students were at the arena to take part in therapeutic horseback riding. They made horse treats for the horses, groomed the horses and braided lead ropes for use at the riding academy.
They also learned how to rope from former professional steer wrestler Dean Gorsuch, who was recently inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Friday was the first larger event for Gatch in their new indoor arena. It proved to be advantageous as a light rain fell over Gering for much of the morning.
“It was easy for me because Craig did most of the planning for this event,” she said. “We originally planned to do the roping outside, but the weather changed that.”
Schadwinkel said he hoped the day would be a “life learning type experience. We hope we can get the kids to maybe continue doing some of these activities after today.”
To remember the trip, students received a picture of themselves riding and an autographed picture of Gorsuch to take home as souvenirs.
“The kids were really excited to come here,” Schadwinkel said. “We spent a few days before teaching them about the activities they’d be participating in. That way they can be fully engaged and not just listen to us talk about it.”
Students taking part in the event attend schools in Torrington, Southeast and Lingle-Ft Laramie, which serves all of Goshen County.
Gatch enjoys taking the Buckboard message out into the community. She recently was asked to bring their miniature horse, Wild Willie, to Gering High School to help say goodbye and happy retirement to Principal Eldon Hubbard, a horse lover.
Buckboard Therapeutic Riding Academy originally opened in 1997 at an outdoor area south of Melbeta. However, it was always Gatch’s dream to someday build an indoor arena where people could ride year-round.
The new Buckboard indoor arena has been open for about eight weeks.
“We’ve been enjoying this building immensely,” she said. “If we were in our former location, we would have had to cancel today.”
Schadwinkel said he was also happy to have an indoor arena available no matter what the weather throws at us.
“It’s awesome what Kathy has done to promote the arena, and we have wonderful people in the region that have supported them,” he said. “We’re truly blessed to have something like this in our community.”