Our son’s comfortability has increased exponentially around all animals as a result of riding at NTRC.
His confidence level has risen over the years especially with horses and farm animals.
He prides himself as something similar to an “animal whisperer”.
This is important in his overall landscape of life because in most areas he is “behind” or “slower” than the mainstream, but when it comes to handling animals his social skills amp up considerably.
I noticed the other day how comfortable he is on Dexter. His body eases into the cadence of Dexter’s walk while remaining strong in his core.
His hands wrap the reins above the saddle exemplifying fine motor skills with his hands. This is good as he still has some issues with zippers, buttons, and tying his shoes.
The compound benefits of riding therapeutically have given him an outlet unique for himself.
He feels ownership of his riding time, thus building more confidence.
-Parents of rider
My family and I have always loved riding horses, and I treasure the memories of our family trail rides, as well as the special times riding with my brother and sister when we were young! I was so excited when I found out I could ride while at college, but within a few years of graduation, life’s priorities got in the way and new challenges presented themselves! Soon, riding became less of a focus and then eventually just a memory.
Since then, it’s been a long, difficult road of chronic illness, which took years to properly diagnose, and resulted in almost complete disability and painful social isolation. However, I never forgot the power of the incredible bond and mutual respect I had experienced with horses and the feeling of freedom they gave me when I rode them!
When my neurologist ordered Physical Therapy to help with my posture, balance, and gait, I went to each session and did my very best. However, most of the results proved fleeting and both of us were left frustrated! When I told him of my passion for horses and inquired about any potential equine therapy programs in the area, he told me about NTRC and how it has helped some of his other patients! We immediately completed an application and I started in the fall of 2019!
When my evaluation day came I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t know what to expect, but upon seeing what an incredible facility NTRC is, I couldn’t wait to begin my journey! With immaculate grounds, beautiful horses, well-equipped arenas, and welcoming staff, I quickly realized that NTRC is its own community! I felt like I was about to become a part of something extraordinary, and…… I was!
Getting back on a horse after 20+ years, is sort of like getting back on a bicycle, you can manage the basics of how to stop, go and steer pretty well! But horses have minds of their own and require constant communication from the rider. Over time these skills can get rusty, and our bodies age, so it can prove challenging! In my case, there were new issues too, like balancing problems and chronic joint pain, just to name a few!
As so much of riding relies on correct posture and balance, these have been the areas that I have concentrated on. Each week I connect with my horse and work with my instructors in a positive and safe environment to obtain my individual goals and practice the basic principles of horsemanship. Even during the Covid Quarantine, NTRC sent weekly video exercises that could be done at home so we could continue learning and keeping our bodies in shape.
My instructors are always encouraging, respectful, and clear with their directions! While working in a smaller class, I had the opportunity to tell one of my instructors that I’m a “big picture type of person”! I learn best if I understand why! They always welcome my questions, clarify purpose and give constructive, positive feedback with concise corrections.
Over this last year, I have sensed a noticeable improvement in my posture and balance, both on and off the horse! I’m now riding in an independent class, feel more confident in my abilities, and am maintaining correct posture, more often than not, in everyday life. This has reduced my pain, my balance and gait have improved and my doctor is extremely pleased with my progress.
As my disabilities make it difficult to socialize and engage in typical activities, NTRC is the one place where I don’t think about what’s wrong with me! When I’m there, I know no one is judging me and friendly staff is always there waiting with big smiles and a warm, genuine “how was your week?” Riding at NTRC is what gets me through a bad (very symptomatic) week and has given me the opportunity to make new friends that understand what it’s like to live with invisible disabilities! I finally feel like I belong to something important again, my connection to the people, the bond with the horse I ride (Fancy), and that one hour I spend at NTRC each week give me a wonderful sense of belief in myself again, as well as hope and excitement for the future!
My six-year-old son, Bennett, has been a rider at NTRC for over one year. Bennett was born with Spina Bifida and is paralyzed from the waist down. He is a full-time wheelchair user. During his lessons at NTRC he has worked the most on his balance and posture.
When Bennett first started riding, he was hesitant, meek and unsure of himself. Through his consistent weekly lessons, he has gained self-confidence and a sense of pride. He and his horse, Peppermint Patty, make a great team. He has developed a sense of trust with her while improving his balance and posture.
Bennett goes to his orthopedic doctor every 6 months. His most recent appointment showed improvement in his spine which we have attributed to his riding lessons. While riding, he has to sit up straight and be in command of his horse. The position his body must be in to successfully do that has improved the curvature of his spine.
Riding at NTRC has given him confidence, a sense of pride and accomplishment. He now commands his horse with loud, verbal cues and is able to control the reins to make Peppermint Patty move and stop. Each week his skills build and he becomes a better rider.
NTRC’s staff and volunteers have taught him to believe in himself, have confidence in his abilities and have given him a place where he feels loved and accepted as himself. He looks forward to his weekly lessons, and we are so grateful to have found a place where he can ride while simultaneously building his confidence and pride in himself. Thank you NTRC for believing in him and gifting him this incredible opportunity.
-Mom of Rider
Our daughter is visually impaired. She was born with her visual impairment and her vision has not improved. Throughout her young life, Nevaeh struggled and continues to struggle to meet developmental milestones consistent with her peers. About 5 years ago, Nevaeh began OT training. The OT sessions were very expensive and not fully covered by our insurance.
About the same time, we could no longer afford OT, Nevaeh’s mom was in a group tour of NTRC. With the information gained from the tour, emails, and follow-up phone calls and assessments, Nevaeh was accepted as the first visually impaired rider.
Nevaeh has been going to NTRC for four years and has shown great benefit from Equine Therapy. Nevaeh has shown great improvement in her balance, body awareness, depth perception, and self-confidence.
She aspires to continue to ride and would like to volunteer as a side walker as she grows and moves into her teenage years.
-Father of rider
Our daughter has gained so much more confidence since riding at NTRC. Before she would be leery of new situations, but now she is willing to try. Her hand and eye coordination are improving as well. We love the NTRC program and are so grateful.
– Mother of Rider
IT IS ALL ABOUT SATURDAYS…
Every Saturday morning for the past year Natalie has adopted a routine. She is up early and super excited knowing she gets to ride Bella, her horse. She eats breakfast and heads to her room to get ready. Natalie has been homeschooled for the past year so, she knows Saturday is very important to her. Driving to the Center she enjoys a caramel macchiato drink from Starbucks.
As she arrives, her face instantly lights up with a mile-long smile and never-ending laughter. Once unloaded and put on our face masks as a safety precautionary use; not Natalie’s favorite thing to wear as she has extreme sensibility, but she understands why. As always, she is determined to have fun and enjoy her riding lesson. As she finishes with hand washing and temperature taking, she peaks her head up and sees Bella’s waiting in the arena all tacked up and ready for Natalie. Bella, her name said everything, is beautiful, calm, and confident. It is a whole experience. Not a Saturday that goes by that is unforgotten by Natalie.
Natalie has accomplished and has made a huge improvement in all areas such as posture skills, balance, motor skills. But also important, she demonstrates excitement about riding, as she patiently waits for directions. She enjoys interacting with the instructors and volunteers. She truly enjoys her leaders and her side walkers and of course all the NRTC team, it is truly the best morning of the week.
Thank you NRTC for helping us to transform uncertainty into adventure, we are doing it together!!
-Mom of Rider
My wife had a significant stroke on October 17th, 2017. The stroke occurred while still in the hospital the day after she had a successful knee replacement surgery.
The stroke affected her entire right, dominant side. She spent two months in acute rehab at the hospital, and 3 months in a subacute facility, and she received excellent PT, OT, and speech therapies at both. She has had continuous therapies since and has made slow, but steady progress in all.
At the suggestion of our then, current OT, in 2019 we applied for the NTRC, and Kat was invited for evaluation in March 2021. After qualification and acceptance, she completed nine sessions up to your end of May closure. Kat was very apprehensive for the first few sessions but became more comfortable with each.
Post-stroke, I have been a very active participant in all of her therapies. Her “homework” with me has far exceeded the professional therapies she has received. As such, I am the authority regarding her progress in all facets of her recovery.
I have done much research on stroke recovery, and have acquired much knowledge. In all recovery activities, repetition is essential, and she has willingly worked extremely hard to achieve improvements. In the past 3.5 years, verbalization and cognition, walking very short distances with assistance, right arm movement, and much more have advanced significantly.
She is still reliant on me for all daily functions, but with only 9 brief equestrian therapy sessions, several improvements are evident:
- Walking has improved. With a gait belt, quad cane and my assistance, cadence and stride with her stroke-compromised right leg have improved, as has the time required to travel the short distance she walks daily.
- Core strength has improved. She can sit on a hard surface, lean and put weight on her compromised right arm, and right herself without assistance. She can also strongly resist force from behind and front.
- Speech has improved. She asks more intelligent questions and expresses herself more frequently in full and more cogent sentences.
- Stamina has improved. We have expanded the time committed to several of the in-home exercises she completes every day.
At 74 years old, being on horseback is still not one of her favorite therapies, but we will plan to return to the program in the fall. In stroke recovery, every therapeutic activity counts, and equestrian therapy has proven to provide noticeable benefits in a very short timeframe. We look forward to continuing and expanding on those benefits.
-Husband of Rider
We heard about NTRC many years ago while our son was in elementary school. I was very skeptical that riding would make a difference in John’s life. John was diagnosed with autism. He had been taking speech/occupational therapy two times a week. His cognitive thinking/skills were very low. We never knew what would set him off, it could be smells, too much stimulation, textures, so many different things. Would he go into one of his episodes while riding on around the horses? I was worried about how this would work out.
Today John is 30 years old. I can’t say enough about NTRC. We started to notice John changing……his gross and fine motor skills were improving. His cognitive thinking was improving. He became so confident. He was following commands in the arena. He was riding without a side walker or lead. Before Covid, he had learned to groom and saddle his horse with assistance. He began to open up and become more verbal and social, whereas he would avoid people. Now he makes sure he says hello and will talk a bit and then when leaving he makes sure he seeks people out to say good bye. NTRC has always made him and others feel special, like family. Thank you NTRC and the many people who spend their time helping our loved ones!
-Mom of Rider