Riding Beyond hopes to reach goal by Dec. 31 so it can keep helping local women, including those affected by the Almeda Fire and COVID-19
By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news
There are more than 4,000 women each year recovering from breast cancer in the Rogue Valley, a number that’s growing every year, and Ashland-based Riding Beyond aims to help those most impacted recover from treatment.
The nonprofit organization helps many of those experiencing stress associated with breast cancer treatment, as well as those facing other life challenges, facilitate healing through working with horses, including Mystic Moon and Journey. Each October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month — the nonprofit organization makes an annual appeal for fundraising. This year, the organization has raised about $5,500 of its total $25,000 goal so far.
“We still need (about) $20,000,” Broersma told Ashland.news. “The success of our annual appeal is critical to our future in sharing the power of the horse-human connection for the growing number of women each year locally … who have experienced debilitating after-effects of breast cancer treatment ,as well as the marginalized populations and other people who have challenges … who can benefit from our work.”
The program, which began in 2013, has expanded to include programs for women impacted by the Almeda Fire as well as COVID-19.
Riding Beyond allows individuals a chance to meditate, share and interact with horses and a donkey in a unique and therapeutic way.
Broersma incorporates music, storytelling and poetry. Individuals share on her website many stories of “heart-to-heart” connections with the horses.
Exercises, according to the website, are said to improve blood circulation, respiration and blood pressure, as well as balance, strength and endurance.
“Horses, when given the choice and provided with boundaries to make the interaction safe … they step up to interactions that are just phenomenal in terms of their heart-to-heart connection, their sensitivity to subtle things going on,” said Broersma in a video posted to the organization’s website.
About one third of those who come to Riding Beyond following breast cancer treatment hear of it through a nurse navigator, though Broersma is looking to increase awareness.
Broersma is working with hospitals to increase awareness about therapeutic sessions with horses for breast cancer survivors. Broersma recently made a short presentation at a staff meeting at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.
Melanie Dines, breast health oncology nurse navigator at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, shares in a video on Riding Beyond’s page that those leaving breast cancer treatment can often feel vulnerable. The program seeks to reconnect them to themselves and others.
She said she has seen patients experience joy after spending time with horses, thanks to the program.
Broersma is hoping that the community will rally around the organization to raise necessary funds this fall.
“The annual appeal helps us, our staff and volunteers to develop innovative programs like these that we share through the international equine assisted services industries,” Broersma told Ashland.news.
Recently, Broersma spoke at a conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was invited to make a presentation about her work with Riding Beyond.
“This has an impact around the world, because people for years have been cheering about our models and incorporating them into their therapeutic riding programs,” she said. “It’s really beyond the Rogue Valley because of my professional affiliations.”
While the annual appeal for fundraising launched in October, the fund drive continues through Dec. 31.
“We usually do have more gifts come in towards the end of the year for those who plan for year-end giving,” she said.
Broersma gave a presentation at Ashland Chamber of Commerce Greeters gathering in late September, and there are currently posters and giving jars out in the community. The organization also participated in the Ta Ta Horse Show at the Jackson County Fairgrounds and the Asante Cancer Walk.
“The rest of the year (fundraising) is online and through social media,” she said.
Sessions are over for the year, but Broersma hopes that those who learn of opportunities to participate coming up next year can plan ahead to participate.
Volunteer trainings start in March and therapy sessions are slated to begin in April.
Reach Ashland.news staff reporter Holly Dillemuth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nov. 30: Corrected spelling of Trish Broersma’s last name.