Indoor riding arena

Hearts Therapeutic Riding Center in Egg Harbor Township secures its own facilities | Local News

TOWNSHIP OF EGG HARBOR – After operating from Rolling Seas Farm on Asbury Road for 11 years, Hearts Therapeutic Riding Center secured its own facilities and celebrated last Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Hearts is a non-profit charity that provides therapeutic riding lessons for people of all ages with physical, mental and emotional challenges. It offers a program for retired veterans, a silver saddle program for seniors, and summer camps.

It has served people with a total of 97 disabilities since 2011, including those recovering from stroke, people with autism, brain damage, Down syndrome, learning disabilities and speech impairment. post-traumatic stress.

Horses are often used in therapeutic settings because they’re very tuned in to what’s going on around them and how people are feeling, said Stefanie Green, instructor and executive director of Hearts.

“I always say your horse tells you,” Green said.

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There are currently four horses in the new Leap Street facility – D, Garfield, Prince and Lil’ bit – as well as Yankee, who is on a 30-day trial to determine if he is suitable for the program.

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“Only 1 in 10 horses that go through the trial are accepted into the program, so it’s very, very difficult to find a suitable therapy horse,” Green said.

Hearts staff had wanted their own facility for years now, so when the township offered the opportunity to move into 2020 Leap street, they jumped on it.

It all happened very quickly, Green said. They visited the facility on January 6 and moved on March 1.

The catalyst for the move was the ability to build an indoor arena, something they always wanted but needed their own property to do so.

An indoor ride allows Hearts to operate uninterrupted during winter or inclement weather. Riders will be able to participate in sessions throughout the year.

They also plan to build a classroom for clinics and workshops that will teach riders everything they need to know about horses.

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Most importantly, the classroom will serve as a mental health group and a place for groups to reflect on the sessions.

Sue Adams, owner and operator of Rolling Seas Farm and also founder of Hearts, has dedicated decades to horse-assisted therapy and is thrilled with this new chapter.

“It’s gone from the idea of ​​a pony ride to medical approval – psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, they all use horses for their treatments – it’s blown up, and I don’t think it’s done yet. “, said Adams.

Each rider is assessed and assessed and then assigned a horse that is most suited to their needs.

Each lesson has a goal. Instructors set goals for each session and each rider’s progress is tracked.

“It’s still a driving skill that’s the focus of the program, but by teaching that driving skill, we’re enriching their lives in ways that build life skills,” Green said.

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The progress the runners have made has been incredible, Adams said. Life-changing moments happen in the arena – a person says a sentence for the first time and a runner does something they never thought they could do.

“I still get goosebumps,” Adams said.

Henry Birth, 23, of Egg Harbor Township, has been participating in the Hearts program since this time last year and has had outstanding results.

He had first heard of Hearts when he was hosting a Special Olympics program he was attending virtually.

Henry suffers from cerebral palsy, which causes his muscles to tighten. Riding helped him stretch his legs and muscles to relax, improving his flexibility and mobility.

When he started riding months ago, his feet didn’t reach the stirrups until the end of the lesson. Last Saturday at the opener, his feet were in the stirrups within the first five minutes, said Henry’s mother, Robin Birth.

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“I was really impressed,” Robin said.

Henry has sessions once a week, even during the cold winter months.

He fell in love with it, said Robin Birth. “The joy he has on that horse, if I could sell him, we’d all be rich.”

As the warmer months approach, Hearts is delighted to have found a new home and is welcoming new cyclists.

“We’ve always been part of the equestrian community, and we just think being here is really going to allow us to become a key part of the community in Egg Harbor Township and Atlantic County in general,” Green said. .

For more information, call 609-703-9130 or visit