The riding arena is state-of-the-art with its bright, airy space, insulated walls and comfortable and air-conditioned viewing area. If not for the wheelchair ramp, no one would guess this stable’s special mission.
The Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship
(CTRH) facilities are east of Milford, nestled in the hilly land along State Route 50. Starting in 1985 with one pony and five riders, CTRH has grown into a riding center that offers therapy to 120 people of all ages and with disabilities ranging from autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, ADD and ADHD to mental health issues. An Aug. 4 horse show will highlight both the physical and emotional accomplishments of these riders when paired with kindly horses and dedicated healers.
CTRH, a Premier Accredited Operating Center (PATH), has met international standards for therapeutic riding centers with diverse and personalized therapy. For adaptive recreational horseback riding, each rider is paired with a horse leader and up to two side-walkers who stay next to the rider at all times, providing a safe and supportive experience.
A more intense physical, occupational and speech therapy treatment strategy, hippotherapy, uses the horse’s movements to encourage neurological function and sensory processing.
“The benefits to the rider are so varied,” says Lauren Warm, one of the center’s licensed physical and occupational therapists who uses this one-on-one treatment. “Riding improves strength, range of motion, muscle tone, cognitive abilities, communication and function. I love the motivation and joy it brings to riders
when they interact with the horses.”
Evaluated for temperament and intensely trained, CTRH horses are at once essential to the program and an ongoing expense — $6,000 a year per animal. More than 2,000 hours of programming, at an hourly cost of around $145, are offered to riders for $35. The center subsidizes the rest.
“We run such a lean operation,” says Linda Rubel, a CTRH board member and volunteer. “Program director Laura Benza is our only full-time employee. We rely on hundreds of volunteers,” who care for the horses, help in the office and work with the riders in their therapy.
Recently, CTRH launched new programs, including Equine Services for Heroes, offering physical and emotional therapy to armed forces veterans. CTRH is also collaborating with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to offer Equine Facilitated Learning, a program that helps patients develop trusting relationships with animals on their journey to mental health healing.
• Attend: the CTRH Horse Show, Aug. 4, 2012, an all-day event at the stables, for a free cookout-style lunch and the chance to support the program’s riders as they showcase their skills.