Horseback riding helps those with special needs

Posted 4/6/22

Fair Hill Therapeutic Riding Center opens in Damascus

DAMASCUS, PA — Riding horseback has always been great exercise. But for those with physical, cognitive, social and emotional needs, …

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Horseback riding helps those with special needs

Posted

Fair Hill Therapeutic Riding Center opens in Damascus

DAMASCUS, PA — Riding horseback has always been great exercise. But for those with physical, cognitive, social and emotional needs, riding provides benefits far beyond the physical.

A review of 16 studies, published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and posted on disabilityscoop.org, found gains in areas including motor function, posture, gait and quality of life, as well as in cognitive, social and emotional well-being.

Fair Hill Therapeutic Riding Center, a nonprofit, was established in 2007 as a way to provide equine-assisted services (EAS). “EAS can create a conduit between human and equine that will reward the participants with enthusiasm and excitement, while realizing multiple underlying achievements,” said Sally Wasylyk, board president of Fair Hill.

Therapeutic riding (TR) is provided to area adults and children with disabilities. TR is a non-traditional therapeutic form of riding, Wasylyk said, in which the rhythmic movement of the horse moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to the human gait, developing muscle strength, balance, cognition and sensory/motor skills.

Fair Hill has a judgment-free environment that promotes independence and self-advocacy. “Helping our participants develop horsemanship skills, in turn manifests into confidence-building, as well as physical and emotional strength,” Wasylyk said.

Liz Rybak, the owner of Wynsum Equestrian Center,  has allowed Fair Hill to operate from her facility in Damascus.  

Fair Hill is currently accepting applications for the spring session, which is already in progress, and two six-week summer sessions. Those take place from Tuesday, June 7 to Saturday, July 16 and Tuesday, July 19 to Saturday, August 27.  

Volunteer opportunities are available.

For information contact Fair Hill at FHTRC2019@gmail.com or call 570/390-8695. You can also visit the Fair Hill Facebook page at fairhilltherapeuticridingcenter.

Equine therapy and a Greater Pike fund

MILFORD, PA — A screening of the classic film “National Velvet” helped raise money for a new fund established by the GAIT advisory council at the Greater Pike Community Foundation.

The GAIT Advisory Council Endowment (GAIT ACE) fund is meant to increase access to GAIT’s equine therapy programs. It will help defray tuition costs and make therapy more accessible for children and adults with a variety of diagnoses and disabilities, while expanding awareness of all of GAIT’s programs.

About 80 percent of people who can benefit from equine therapy either don’t know about it or can’t pay for it, said Steven Raider, co-chair of the advisory council. Council members hope that by defraying tuition costs and providing more opportunities to more people to participate in the equine therapy programs, the word about its benefits will spread.

“They become our ambassadors and can help educate others about the benefits of equine therapy,” he explained.

GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center offers equine therapy by trained staff and volunteers to clients of all ages who have been diagnosed with an array of physical and/or emotional needs.

To learn more or to donate to the GAIT Advisory Council Fund visit https://greater

pike.org/fund_list. Scroll to the GAIT ACE Fund for the link.

For more information about Greater Pike, contact executive director Jenni Hamill at 570/832-4686, email jennihamill@greater

pike.org, or visit www.greaterpike.org and Facebook.com/GreaterPike.

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