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WQAD.com

Therapeutic horseback riding barn works to stay connected with riders after closing due to coronavirus outbreak

New Kingdom Trailriders in Sherrard, Illinois is using technology to spread joy to riders and instructors

SHERRARD, Illinois — Horseback riding is a therapeutic activity for young people who struggle physically, mentally, socially or emotionally but due to the coronavirus outbreak, New Kingdom Trailriders in Sherrard, Illinois isn't currently able to welcome riders.

"It was a very heartbreaking decision to have to make, but a lot of our riders and volunteers are in the high-risk group," said executive director Jodie Barton. 

Barton and some of her staff could be seen walking along their arena in Sherrard with Mac, a blind horse who is the favorite of a young rider named Owen. 

"He normally rides on Tuesdays and Mac is his horse. And his instructor Monika is on the phone via Facetime," said Barton with a laugh.

Monika Sauer is better known to Owen as the voice of "Mr. Frog."

"Me being the instructor that I am, I probably take it to a whole new level," Sauer told News Eight via Facetime.

Together, New Kingdom Trailriders staff produced a fun video Tuesday with Mr. Frog riding Mac, narrated by Sauer.

"Just trying to find ways to connect with our riders as best as we can," said Barton. "In a fun and silly way so that they can just have some normalcy of seeing our faces if nothing else."

New Kingdom is taking it week by week and is unsure when riders will be able to come back to the arena. Staff in the meantime is hoping riders will be entertained by their videos of the horses online.