Interview with staff member of REINS: Kaitlyn Siewert
At REINS, children and adults with disabilities learn how to ride horses. This is an intense form of therapy that benefits a wide range of abilities. Their current enrollment is nearly 200 weekly students who come from all over the counties of Orange, Riverside and San Diego. They also have the help of over 100 weekly volunteers who assist in all aspects of the program.
What is your current title/and or role at REINS?
I am the Program Assistant. This role includes but is not limited to: managing horse care, teaching lessons, scheduling, fundraising, and volunteer management. Most of my time at work is spent teaching lessons and working with the horses.
I believe you mentioned you started at REINS as a child? Can you tell me more about this? For instance how did you find out about REINS? What interested you most in the beginning?
I started at REINS when I was 11 years old (yes, it was before we had an age requirement). My best friend at the time volunteered here; she knew I loved horses and really wanted me to get involved. At first I came so I could play with horses, however it was not long until the riders stole my heart! I came every day that I could! Many of my favorite childhood memories happened here at REINS, and I knew that I never wanted to leave! I became a PATH Certified Instructor in 2004, a big accomplishment for me! It wasn’t until we had an Occupational Therapist come out to consult with us that I knew I wanted to have a career in a field related to Therapeutic Riding. She really shed some light on what is really happening with our riders while on the horse. I just became captivated with the possibilities therapeutic riding has to offer the special needs community!
Looking back and now considering where you are now in your career- at REINS, what has changed for you?
REINS challenges me to push myself harder than I would on my own. I made the choice to go to college for my Kinesiology degree because I wanted to understand what we do at REINS and why it works. The ladies that I work with are extremely hard workers and are passionate about what they do; they make me a stronger person because of their support and faith in why we do what we do. The horses have been the greatest teachers of all. They have taught me how to accept the obstacles I encounter in life, and love anyway. They are some of the most spiritual beings, and they gently guide us to look at things differently. Most of all, REINS has given me a meaningful cause that I strive for everyday; when you give your heart for a worthy purpose, the reward is greater than words.
If you had to pick three things that inspire you most about your work-what would they be?
Oh wow! How do I narrow it down to three? Well ….
First and foremost, the families of our riders! Everyone has their battles in life, and how we fight and conquer those battles is what makes us who we are. Our families here at REINS fight some of the toughest fights, day in and day out they deal with things emotionally, physically, and mentally that would cripple many of us; yet they show up here with a smile on their face and tell us about their week. They inspire me in a way that I will never fully understand.
Second, our riders. They are faced with challenges that we would not understand unless we were in their shoes. Constantly they are told that they cannot do, or that they will not be able to ever do certain things. It is the most precious gift to me that we can offer them an opportunity to do something that many people dream about, to ride a horse. They are able to do so much on the back of the horse that they may not be able to do otherwise.
Third, I am inspired by the volunteers that come and help us do what we do. They are the reason we are able to stay in business. They are the meat of our program, and our bread and butter too! Our volunteers donate their most precious gift, time! We all only have so much time in our day, and days in our week, but this doesn’t seem to faze them. Our volunteers are there to lead our horses, help tack and un-tack our horses, and help us instructors with side-walking. Without our generous volunteers our program could not succeed, our students could not ride, and I would be out of the job that I so dearly love. THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!!!
To learn more about REINS visit their site.