Windsor

Horse carriage trainer hopes lessons steer volunteers to WETRA

One man is trying to teach others the art of driving a horse drawn carriage with the hope they'll volunteer their new skills with the Windsor Essex Therapeutic Riding Association.

Horse and carriage lessons at WETRA

8 years ago
Duration 2:22
Randy Fasan is trying to teach others the art of driving a horse drawn carriage with the hope they will volunteer their skills with the Windsor Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA)

One man is trying to teach others the art of driving a horse drawn carriage with the hope they will volunteer their new skills with the Windsor Essex Therapeutic Riding Association.

Randy Fasan wants to keep the art of driving horse drawn vehicles alive. (Makda Ghebreslassie/CBC)

Randy Fasan was taught to drive horse drawn vehicles years ago. He runs a business that offers horse drawn carriage services for weddings and funerals, and now offers lessons.

"It was the basics, but it was enough that maybe I can pass it on to somebody, and that's why I started volunteering at [Windsor Essex Therapeutic Riding Association] WETRA."

Fasan hopes those who invest in learning the skill will end up following in his footsteps and volunteer with WETRA. 

Cart programs helps those with anxiety, autism

WETRA uses horses to help people with physical disabilities and those who are dealing with emotional and mental health issues. 

Currently, five clients, some suffering from anxiety, some with autism are enrolled in the horse-drawn cart program. 

Leah Hess has been taking the cart driving program for a few weeks and says it has been helping with her anxiety. (Makda Ghebreslassie/CBC)

"Some of the adults we see have had a mild stroke and are a little bit limited in their balance and coordination," said Becky Mills, the managing director. "Driving is a safer alternative for them to riding mounted on a horse."

Leah Hess, who has been using WETRA for the past three years, has been taking the cart driving program for a few weeks. 

She said she was afraid at first, but not anymore. 

"This relaxes my anxiety," said Hess. 

As her instructor, Fasan has seen how the exercise has been helping.

"Actually Leah was a very, very nervous young lady," said Fasan. "When she first got into the carriage she was literally shaking and within the hour she settled down to the point where I could actually hand her the lines and she controlled the cart within the first hour."

WETRA clients learn to drive horse-drawn cart 

Mills said previously clients had two options: learn how to ride or groom horses. But for more than a year, Fasan and other volunteers have been teaching people how to drive a horse-drawn cart.   

Becky Mills, the managing director of WETRA, says there has been a good response to the cart program. (Makda Ghebreslassie/CBC)

"Originally we started using the horse to sort of manipulate the body for people who had physical ailments and physical disabilities," said Mills. "The horse seems to make the muscle more supple. Movement of the horse reduces spasticity and it helps the rider gain core muscle strength, but over the years we've discovered that horses help people with mental health issues, as well."

Mills said since Fasan has come on board he's brought three volunteers to help with the program. 

"He's gone out in the community and gathered up a few people to help him implement this program and help more people with disabilities," she said. 

WETRA received a $2,500 grant in 2014 to purchase a harness and cart. The organization has the harness, but still has to buy the cart. 

In the meantime they have been borrowing a cart from one of the volunteers. 

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