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Therapeutic Riding Program Fundraiser March 9

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
February 13, 2008


Mandi Evans (L) and Kelly Eagles ( R ) leading Flash, one of the horses used by UNH’s therapeutic riding program.

A young girl who hadn’t been able to put two words together said her first sentence to a horse she’d been riding while participating in UNH’s therapeutic riding program.

After the lesson, her instructor told her to thank the horse for the ride. The girl leaned over, kissed the horse on the nose and said, “I love you.”

The riding program offers therapeutic treatment to individuals with physical, emotional, and cognitive disabilities while creating an environment that helps integrate members of the disabled and able-bodied communities.

Participants include individuals with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. Current clients range in age from 5 to 57.

“A horse is such a strong motivator. We can get kids to do things they wouldn’t do in any other setting,” says Cindy Burke, director of the 19-year-old program.

On Sunday, March 9 at 5 p.m. in the New England Center’s Great Bay Room, the group will host a dinner and silent auction to help raise money for the riding program.

Tickets—which won’t be sold at the door- are $50 per person.

The riding program benefits from being housed at the university; horses from the UNH equestrian program are made available to clients and the campus offers a ready supply of volunteers. But money for special helmets and equipment, as well as office supplies, are paid for by the program.

Additionally, Burke says, they try to offer scholarships to those individuals who can’t afford the $190 for six group lessons during a six-week period. Sometimes, money is used to buy a new horse.

“We can’t just grab any horse and put it in the barn to use with our clients. It has to be a special horse,” Burke says. “We get to see the horses through the regular UNH riding program. If six horses freak out when the dumpster is emptied and one doesn’t, we say, ‘let’s look at him.’”

Burke, who has been the program director for five years, is a certified riding instructor. The program is certified through the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, Inc.

Lessons are offered three times a year and draw between 25 and 30 participants to each.

For tickets to the March 9 fundraiser, mail checks to UNH TRP, Equine Center, 278 Mast Rd. Ext., or contact Cindy Burke at 2-0131, via email cindy.burke@unh.edu or at www.trp.unh.edu.


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