Trillium support for new program at TJ Stables



After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Canadian Cowgirls are back in the saddle. On Sunday, the acclaimed group entered the ring at TJ Stables and wowed a large crowd with a stunning show of riding prowess. The elite rodeo-style drill team, known for its colourful costumes and dangerous manoeuvres, has called TJ Stables home since it was founded there in 2002. Erica Robertson, seen here atop Flare, waves to the crowd.

A new program is set to rollout at T.J. Stables.

A branch of the renowned Acceptional Riders Therapeutic Riding Program, the new Equine Assisted Learning and Life Skills program is an alternative therapy program for all ages.

According to Acceptional Riders founder Terry Jenkins, the new program allows the horse to be the teacher.

“The horse encourages making connections,” Jenkins said, adding interaction with the animal boosts life skills, with participants transferring these interactions to problem solving in real life.

Jenkins, who has been running the Acceptional Riders program in Chatham for more than 30 years, said there are “no wrong answers in the arena, only safe and unsafe practices.

“We allow the participants to interpret the instructions for the obstacles and to stretch their creativity and thinking outside the box while completing the challenges,” Jenkins said.

The EAL program is being made available thanks to a $73,200 Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilient Communities grant.

Alison VanGorkum, chairperson of the Acceptional Riders board of directors, said the funding has made it possible to train facilitators, engage consultants and create an EAL therapy room, while also allowed for the addition of appropriate obstacles.

EAL is an alternative therapy program aimed at helping participants to develop healthy relationships, work ethic, trust of self and others, confidence, self-esteem and the improvement of communications skills both verbal and non verbal.

Jenkins said improving impulse control, developing patience when considering others, and creating good decision-making skills are also part of the program, as is increasing smart risk-taking and developing the ability to appreciate diversity and one’s own value in the community.

Jenkins said the funding is appreciated in light of the “many stressors” that led to isolation and anxiety for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Jenkins, an Indigenous component has been developed with the mainstream EAL program, a collaboration led by a knowledge keeper director that utilizes the Seven Grandfather Teachings.

Seven one-hour sessions comprise the holistically balanced EAL experience.

The Acceptional Riders program has been shelved for the past two years due to COVID, however, new clients are now being accepted for both the riding and non-riding programs.

To enrol, make a donation or sponsor a participant, please contact TJ Stables at 519-354-7517 or e-mail




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