Project R.I.D.E. Inc.
, (Riding Instruction Designed for Education), is a Premier Accredited PATH International Center
that provides recreational horseback riding instruction to over 500 children and adults with special needs. Serving in the greater Sacramento CA metropolitan area, Project R.I.D.E. Inc., provides mounted lessons, non-mounted lessons, and special lessons on our amazing custom-made Equicizer, “Stella.”
Stella is a wonderful way to introduce new or fearful students to our therapeutic riding program, and can even help develop advanced skills in independent riders. In fact, some of our riders have become so fond of “Stella” that they prefer riding her over the actual horses! Stella is beloved by our students because she is beautiful, approachable, smaller than an actual horse, easy to mount and dismount, and FUN to ride. The staff love her because she is the best behaved equine in the barn. She doesn’t make a mess, she doesn’t spook, and she’s an easy keeper!
At Project R.I.D.E. Inc., we use Stella with new students, fragile students we cannot place into mounted lessons, and students who exceed the weight limit of our horses. We also use her for advanced riding students working on specific riding techniques like a posting trot or two point position. Sometimes the staff even rides Stella on their lunch break for a great core workout.
Meet one of our very special students… Sophia. Sophia struggles to walk on her own and needs help to support her body. When she first started at Project R.I.D.E. Inc., Sophia was unable to stretch her legs around a real horse or even hold her body and head up. She wasn’t ready to ride a real horse in our program and needed a way to get stronger first. Her therapeutic riding instructor, Lauren,
suggested she start out on Stella. “I knew immediately that I was going to get this beautiful girl on a real horse someday, and I knew exactly where to start. Our Equicizer!” claims Lauren.
Sophia began riding the Equicizer twice a week with Lauren and results began to show. Her core seemed stronger, she was able to stretch her legs around the Equicizer, and was beginning to hold her head up independently.
A little over a year after Sophia began riding the Equicizer she was ready to try the real thing. She is now riding a horse with support and continuing to work on her strength. Recently, she did something miraculous- Sophia took her first steps in school. This was something her doctors never thought she’d be able to do. If it wasn’t for a combination of things in Sophia’s life, including the Equicizer, she might not have achieved this. Sophia is one of many students who have benefitted from the Equicizer. Stella is so important to our program that a custom tent was made for her lessons which includes a disco ball, so we can dance and listen to music while students ride her. We are so thankful that Project R.I.D.E. Inc., is able to have an Equicizer as an integral part of our program.
About the Author:
Lauren Bender is a PATH International Advanced Instructor and California native who attended Centenary College in NJ to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies. She knew that she was going to work in her dream career as a therapeutic riding instructor. She now works for Project R.I.D.E. Inc., and has been there for about 3 ½ years. Currently, she teaches over 90 riders a week.
To learn more about Project R.I.D.E. or make a donation, visit: projectride.org
Photos courtesy of Project R.I.D.E Inc., Lauren Bender and DL Cunningham Photography
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