Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding
Horseback riding transports individuals with special needs into a new, unexplored world providing a sense of independence and freedom that defies disabilities. When riding, individuals escape their braces, crutches, wheelchairs and disabilities, replacing them with the gentle gait of a well-trained horse. Therapeutic Riding is widely recognized as an effective rehabilitation tool in the treatment of children and adults experiencing a wide range of physical, cognitive, developmental, and social/ emotional disabilities, many of whom– despite their young age– have spent what seems to be a lifetime in traditional therapy sessions. To see their faces light up with happiness as they sit up on their horse and bury their hands, arms and sometimes even faces into their furry friend is truly a sight to behold. In this setting, activities that would typically be called work are easily disguised as fun!
Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding serves 185+ riders with physical, mental and social/emotional challenges, ages 2- 100 with a list of 70+ individuals waiting to participate in programming. Equest is the only program in our area that offers a YEAR ROUND therapeutic riding program. This is a critical piece for many individuals with disabilities. This helps to prevent regression and foster greater physical, mental, emotional and social improvement and benefits experienced due to a consistent riding therapy schedule throughout the year. Our program is also one of only two programs in the state that owns its own farm, complete with an outdoor riding arena, heated indoor arena, barn, classroom and rest room and our specially designed, one of a kind, mile long, Saddle Safari Sensory Riding trail. Equest serves many individuals in areas such as job training and vocational skills from area schools & group homes, equine facilitated mental health program, and nationally recognized music therapy on horseback program which combines the therapeutic riding program in the arena with music therapy. Our Carriage Driving program for those with special needs will begin in 2018!
Vital to our program is our dedicated crew of volunteers who donated over 52,600 hours of service in 2015 alone.
The HORSES + SPECIAL KIDS= SUCCESS scholarship funds are critical to those receiving services at Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding. Many of our families are experiencing unemployment, loss of insurance benefits and rising health costs which can deeply impact all aspects of treatment. Families with special needs children have many extra medical bills and extra costs for special equipment to care for them. Equest charges $ 20.00 per lesson but the actual cost is approximately $ 62.18. This means that all of our riders are being subsidized whether directly with scholarship money or indirectly by the grants and donations that allow the lesson charge to remain at $20.00. Many of our riders are unable to pay anything at all and receive full scholarships. All of our riders benefit from the "HORSES + SPECIAL KIDS = SUCCESS" scholarship funds.
Equest instructors are certified by PATH International -Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. Our staff includes licensed teachers and degreed professionals. Because of its varied benefits, Therapeutic Riding has been recognized as a beneficial mode of therapy by the American Physical and Occupational Therapy Associations. At Equest Center riders astride specially trained horses enjoy lessons designed to promote skills in the following areas:
Physical Benefits- Improved balance, posture & coordination (fine and gross motor skills), faster reflexes, improved motor planning, stretching of tight or spastic muscles, decreased spasticity, increased range of motion, reduction of abnormal movement patterns, improved respiration and circulation, improved appetite and digestion, provides sensory integration, normalization of muscle tone, increased strength & stamina, endurance and relaxation.
Mental Benefits-- Strengthens auditory short term memory, improves visual memory, sequencing, patterning and motor-planning, improves math and reading skills, problem solving, spatial relationships, strengthens ability to follow directions, improved eye-hand coordination
Social / Emotional Benefits- Provides general sense of well-being, improved self-confidence, Increased interest in outside world and interest in one’s own life, develops patience, emotional control and self-discipline, provides sense of normality, improves communication skills, develops courage and a willingness to take risks, social relationships, breaks down barriers, teaches kindness and develops a respect and love for animals.
We have expanded our Equine Therapy options to address additional needs of our clients. Therapy programs include:
~ Year-long Therapeutic Riding program for special needs individuals
~ Music Therapy on Horseback - taught by a licensed music therapist and PATH certified instructor
~ Saddle Safari Sensory Riding Trail -- Mile-long outdoor riding trail with specialized sensory stations and pathways to serve the needs of those with Sensory Processing Disorder
~ Summer Horsemanship Day Camp. Five week-long sessions are offered throughout the summer for those 8 years old and up of all abilities. Classes run from 9-2 daily with a horse show for the campers on the final day each week.
~ Horses as Healers Program. Partnering with Gilda's Club and individuals who have been touched by cancer for a special multi-weekend long program.
~ Volunteer training and Advanced Volunteer Training - held each month at the center. This is a required element for all who volunteer at the center.
~ Vocational training for teens through adults from schools, group homes, rehabilitation facilities... These individually tailored programs teach organizational skills, work skills, communication skills and give many a sense of purpose, pride and accomplishment which is priceless! We would love to continue to expand this service to meet the need in the community!
~ Horses and Heroes - working with United States Veterans in our program
~ Volunteer partnerships with hundreds of organizations, boy scouts, girl scouts, churches, schools, businesses for group volunteer and retreat opportunities.
~ PATH International Instructor Certification and Training Site location for individuals all over the United States.
~ Carriage & Cart Driving program ~ coming in 2018
~ On site, hands on learning and internship opportunities and partnerships with Colleges, medical teaching institutions, as well as high schools in the area.