Amount Requested: $5,000 for General Operating Support
Mission: To serve those in Greater Augusta County with physical, emotional, and developmental special needs through a wide range of therapeutic equine activities.
Constituents Served: Ride With Pride (RWP) is making a difference in the lives of children and adults in Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro who have physical disabilities, mental/emotional needs, and learning challenges. Physical disabilities range from cerebral palsy, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, Down Syndrome, hearing or vision impaired, and traumatic brain injuries. In meeting the emotional and mental health needs of our riders, RWP works with individuals who have been victims of abuse and neglect, who have diagnoses of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In 2015, RWP served 136 individuals. Of this number, 54 (40%) students were ages 4-10, 46 (34%) students were ages 11-18, 35 (25%) students were ages 19 to 64, and 1 student was 65 and older.
Program Overview: RWP is a recognized operating center by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Riding (PATH). Path supports therapeutic riding programs across the country (and internationally) with insurance, technical assistance, and training in safety and teaching techniques. The RWP program is designed to meet the needs of each student. It includes teaching basic horse care, which includes grooming, proper use of tack, and saddling, as well as basic riding skills. For the physically handicapped, riding on the back of a horse provides the gentle motions, rotations, balance and gait patterns they could not perform themselves. This gives the rider a renewed sense of body control and helps build the strength and flexibility to develop in ways that may not have been possible utilizing conventional physical therapies. The program also provides therapy for people with learning disabilities and emotional challenges. The relationship that naturally develops between the rider and the horse, and the requirement for providing care for the animal, fosters responsibility, independence, self-esteem and trust.
At RWP, the horses are the heart of our program. Each individual horse is chosen for its gentle nature, good temperament, and its ability to work with a variety of riders and volunteers. The safety and well‐being of the riders, volunteers, and horses is the first objective; therefore, each horse must be able to work safely and effectively.
The program relies on qualified instructors and dedicated volunteers. RWP has five experienced equestrian trainers, four of whom have received certification from the PATH. Volunteers are the other core element to program success. On an annual basis, between 100 and 125 individuals donate their time to assist
RWP’s current program activities include:
Therapeutic Riding – teaches communication skills with horses as well as with peers; improves horsemanship skills to the best of the rider’s ability.
Social Skills – develops skills that are necessary to successfully interact with others & build positive relationships; promotes skill development, body awareness, & confidence building; emphasizes listening, following directions, risk taking, asking for help, problem solving, & working as part of a team.
“Anger Awareness” with Horses – helps develop healthy skills in which to express emotions; emphasizes listening, relaxation, empathy, & problem solving; teaches assertiveness as an alternative to passive or aggressive behavior.
“Cowboy Poetry” – character building program; addresses the needs of at-risk youth in our community.
Veterans Program – helps military personnel through a combination of equine activities, recreation, and socialization; offers opportunities to connect with a horse and build new trust-centered skills.
Current Operating Budget: $102,186