Naples Therapeutic Riding Center, located in Collier County, Florida, began in 1997 as Naples Equestrian Challenge. Through the help of a very generous donor, who believed in the future of NTRC, 206 Ridge Drive became the organization’s permanent home. Over the next five years, NTRC grew from serving four children with disabilities, with four volunteers and two borrowed horses on a borrowed field, to serving more than 100 therapeutic riders, with a core group of volunteers and instructors. An article in Naples Daily News attracted additional volunteers to balance the growing interest in therapeutic riding.
By 2010, NTRC had laid significant groundwork to launch group programs that quickly became highly sought after collaborations with social, human, and health services organizations in Collier County, serving the community’s most vulnerable populations.
More than 50 distinct disabilities and additional needs are addressed through therapeutic riding and group programs. NTRC’s therapeutic riding program can serve up to 180 participants each year, the majority of whom are children under the age of 18. On occasion, senior therapeutic riders are in their 60s and beyond.
NTRC’s group programs, offered as equine-facilitated psychotherapy or equine-facilitated learning, currently serve 500 to 600 participants each year. These group programs are primarily geared towards mental, emotional, and behavioral health needs. They are delivered as either mounted or unmounted programs. These groups serve people with PTSD due to trauma and violence, children who have lost a loved one, those struggling with addiction, homeless youth, and those diagnosed with mental health issues. In collaboration with other organizations, NTRC’s group programs reflect community needs and assessments.
In 2017, after completing a four million dollar capital campaign, NTRC expanded its campus to include the Clark Family Equine-Assisted Therapy Center. In addition to a round arena, four horse stalls, and added paddocks, NTRC now has the space and technology to incorporate continuing education, workshops, certifications, and presentations.
NTRC is accredited at the “premier” level by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.). NTRC’s team consists of six PATH International Certified Instructors, all of whom hold the Therapeutic Riding Instructor certification and two of whom hold the additional Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning certification. All instructors perform evaluations, assessments and create individualized treatment programs for therapeutic riders.
From modest beginnings, NTRC has yielded one of the top equine-assisted therapy centers in the south-east region. NTRC now serves more than 700 participants each year and provides more than 9,000 hours of service annually. With a herd of 12 to14 horses, and the assistance of 350 community volunteers, NTRC is one of the few organizations capable of providing unique equine-assisted therapies to a broad range of children and adults who show increasing benefits due to their interactions with horses.
NTRC receives funding through Naples Children & Education Foundation, The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, United Way of Collier County, The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, The Community Foundation of Collier County, Swinging with Purpose and other private donations.