Horses part of therapy at new Parkwood riding center [video]

Parkwood Therapeutic Riding Center, a federally-registered nonprofit organization at 3142 Mechanicsville Rd., opened its doors to the special needs community in September.

“You use the horse in any way shape or form to achieve a short or longterm goal,” said Parkwood TRC President and instructor Sarah Del Ricci. “ We teach them a riding skill that can transfer over into a life skill.”

Its mission is to provide equine-related activities that improve physical and cognitive functions through riding skills and horse care depending on the goals of the rider.

The center’s instructors are all certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, the global authority for equine-assisted therapies and focus on partnering students with a horse.

The relationship the students share with their horses offers a multitude of benefits, Del Ricci said, that include building confidence, improving strength, balance and coordination.

“We also do ground work for somebody who has an extreme phobia of horses,” Del Ricci said. “We can work with introductory animals and then work up to the horse.”

The staff encourages everyone to come to the facility to learn more about the program and take a lesson for free. “It doesn’t matter if you have a slight disability, a cognitive disability or physical disability,” Del Ricci said. “Just give us a call and we sign you up.”

 Lucia Volpe is a student reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

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