Nearly every day a child or adult with a mental or physical disability gets to step away from a life with limits and get on the back of a horse.
“The work we do is so important and life changing for our riders,” Linda Ray Rubel, interim executive director at CTRH, said.
CTRH offers a variety of classes for children and adults who have either a mental or physical disability.
There are recreational riding classes, where a certified instructor teaches a group of up to five students, hippotherapy classes, where a therapist utilizes the movement of the horse for therapy, ground lessons and more.
Laura Benza, program director and certified riding instructor at CTRH, said they serve children and adults with a wide-range of disabilities including autism, down syndrome, attention deficit disorder, cerebral palsy and much more.
Benza said the program has continued to grow since 1985, when it was founded by stable owner Chile Rodgers, Stepping Stones day camp director Sue Radabaugh and horsewoman Bobbi Thies.
“We started out with one borrowed pony and five riders,” Benza said. “Now we have 10 horses and more than 125 riders per year.”
Benza said they acquired more horses special enough to carry handicapped riders, grew their volunteer base and in 2002 they acquired their own facility, a 19-acre farm on US 50.
Since 2002, Benza said, they have made several renovations and improvements to the property including adding an indoor arena to allow for all-weather riding.
Benza said young men have also built sidewalks, benches and a pavilion at the farm as part of Eagle Scout projects.
She said the new facility and increasing support for the program, including the donations of horses and funds, has allowed CTRH to grow, and they are able to continue to take more students.
“A lot of people don’t know about us,” Benza said.
Rubel said that for a while the stable remained under the radar because they did not have the resources to accommodate a large number of students.
“We need more riders now,” Rubel said. “We are happy to talk to people who think it may be a match.”
Rubel and Benza said the program enables children and adults with disabilities to feel like they are on the same playing field as able-bodied children and adults.
Rubel said one of their regular students Anne Phipps, who is now a member of the board, told her that once a week, she gets to get out of a wheelchair and on a horse, and once a week she gets to look down at people instead of up.
“To see the changes and progress people make is really cool,” Benza said.
In addition, the program also provides significant health benefits to help improve students’ lives.
Rubel said they have had students gain strength and be able to do things they were not able to do before the program, including being able to walk again.
“It’s different for every child and every adult,” Rubel said about the benefits.
Benza said recreational classes are $35 for one hour and hippotherapy classes are $60 for 30 minutes. She said they are also beginning a new program for wounded veterans.
Rubel and Benza said anyone interested in the program can call the CTRH at (513) 831-7050. For more information about the program visit www.ctrh-online.org.