NDSU Bison Strides Therapy Horse Wins Regional Award
Bronco is a dun quarter horse gelding who has spent the last 11 of his 28 years helping individuals become stronger in their bodies, grow in their confidence and find independence, says Erika Berg, North Dakota State University Department of Animal Sciences associate professor and Bison Strides program director.
He is one of six horses in NDSU’s Bison Strides Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies Program and was just selected as the 2021 Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Region 6 Equine of the Year.
This award is given annually to hard-working equine that symbolize the celebration of ability and optimism in the equine-assisted services industry. PATH Intl. Region 6 encompasses equine-assisted services programs in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Bison Strides provides services for people with physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral challenges, partnering them with horses to meet individual goals.
“Bronco is our most trusted and versatile program horse,” Berg says. “He is incredibly intuitive, meeting riders where they are and offering just the right amount of challenge to build their confidence and horsemanship skills. We are eternally grateful for this horse and the gifts he continues to share with all the humans who cross his path.”
Fifteen-year-old Greta Tangquist was scared by Bronco’s size the first time she met him but soon realized he was a gentle giant.
“Bronco makes me feel calm inside and now I feel tall and strong when I ride him,” she says.
Jolene Youngquist, the mom of another rider, says, “Bronco has been a very special horse for my daughter, Shanda, helping her develop core muscle tone, balance, strength and direction following skills.”
Bronco is not only an essential part of Bison Stride’s adapted therapeutic horsemanship program, but he also plays an integral role in Beyond Boundaries Therapy Services.
Beyond Boundaries offers physical and occupational therapy incorporating equine movement (hippotherapy), and the therapists who work with Bronco have nothing but praise for him.
“Bronco is the best-co-worker ever,” occupational therapist Valerie Stevenson says. “The intuition and care he takes with each and every client is immeasurable. I am so thankful to work alongside this horse.”
Bison Strides also offers veterans horsemanship sessions and will be piloting an equine-assisted learning program focusing on youth with emotional and/or behavioral diagnoses this summer.
Bison Strides staff hope to raise money through Giving Hearts Day on Thursday, Feb. 11, to maintain Bronco and his herd mates, purchase additional horses and support program development.
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