Ventura County Horseback Riding Center Providing Four-Legged Therapy
There’s a horseback riding center in Ventura County which offers more than just recreation. It provides a form of therapy for children and adults with disabilities.
Fourteen year old Chloe Chou is saddling up horse Fizz for her weekly horseback riding lesson at Ride On Therapy in Newbury Park.
Chloe has rare genetic disorder Sotos Syndrome, as well as ADHD, and scoliosis. She says that the lessons have helped her immensely.
"I was diagnosed with Sotos Syndrome when I was born. I have low muscle tone in my legs which means that other cardiovascular activities are very tiring for me," she told KCLU.
She says she started riding when she was 10-years-old, and was nervous on the horse at first, but her confidence has grown.
"I love it here," she says.
The Ventura County centre teaches adaptive horseback riding to children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities, and provides physical and occupational therapy specializing in using the movement of the horse to improve specific medical conditions.
Sara Jones, who runs the center, told KCLU it’s rewarding work.
"Horses are such large powerful, incredibly amazing creatures which people are drawn to for so many different reasons," says Jones.
Jones says many of the students and patients find a relationship and sense of independence with the horse which they, perhaps, don't have in their lives when living with a disability.
Ride On has been serving the local community for 25-years, but Jones says this past year, with COVID-19, has proven one of the most challenging.
"Before COVID we were utilizing hundreds of volunteers a week. Obviously that's something we've had to stop doing the past year," she says.
"We just can't wait to get these folks back riding again," says Jones.
They’re hoping to once again build up their pool of volunteers, and then can get back to teaching around 225 riders a week.