Documentary team from left: Vegas Dargatz (CTRA staff), Geoff Arrowsmith, Nick Versteeg, Neil Cutler, Alan Culter (Neil’s father), Lisa Pink (CTRA staff/Neil’s childhood coach), Cate Scally (back), Atticus Scally (front), and Aaron Scally. (submitted)

Teen film-maker wins award for Therapeutic Riding documentary

Arrowsmith’s winning film features Neil Cutler as he looks back on childhood with a disability.

This February, 15-year-old film-maker Geoff Arrowsmith was awarded Best Documentary at the Inaugural Cowichan Valley Film Festival. His short film, Just Like Them, tells the story of a young man’s experience with Cerebral Palsy and therapeutic riding at the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association.

Arrowsmith’s winning film features Neil Cutler, a Nanaimo-based yoga instructor, as he looks back on childhood with a disability. In the documentary, Cutler reflects on his time at CTRA and how therapeutic riding helped him overcome barriers, gain confidence, and realize his potential during difficult teen years.

In the film, Cutler explains how riding provided an important sense of belonging at a time in his life when he struggled to fit in. On camera, Cutler recalls, “I remember the joy of coming and being with an animal…a being that worked with me and helped my disability be different.”

After his start with therapeutic riding, Cutler became a very successful para-equestrian athlete, ultimately competing at the national level.

Arrowsmith made his award-winning documentary under the tutelage of Nick Versteeg (DV Media).

“We at DV Media are very proud of Geoff’s first award on his very first production,” said Versteeg. “We will keep supporting Geoff’s goal to become a film-maker.”

“I had no idea that this project would take me as far as it has,” said Arrowsmith. “It was a pleasure representing CTRA’s work in the community, and a great learning experience being mentored by Nick Versteeg.”

The film was supported by a cast of CTRA participants, staff, volunteers, and therapy horses. It was created to help raise awareness about the program’s positive impact on the lives of young people with special needs. Both Arrowsmith and Versteeg volunteered their time and resources to film and produce the documentary for the charity.

The documentary can be found under www.ctra.ca/media.

Information on the Cowichan Film Festival can be found at www.cowichanvalleyfilmfestival.com.

Those in interested in learning more about equine-assisted therapy services are encouraged to visit www.ctra.ca or contact the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association directly (info@ctra.ca or 250-746-1028). CTRA is currently seeking volunteers to help even more children like Neil realize their dreams. No experience is necessary and all training is provided.

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