Posted by Bob Simmons

Last week we were updated on a truly amazing, impactful NOCO program.  The speaker was Tamara Merritt, Associate Executive Director of Hearts and Horses.  When asked if members were familiar with the program, a large number of hands were raised.  Many testimonials proved this therapeutic riding program provides “more than just a pony ride”.

The Therapeutic Riding Center was established in 1997 near Loveland on 23 acres. Two hundred fifty volunteers per week assist approximately 195 clients with (currently) 30 horses.

Four programs exist.

1.    "Therapeutic Riding" for clients with all disabilities-physical, cognitive, social and emotional.

2.    "Changing Leads" which is aimed at “at risk youth”, working closely with local schools.

3.    "Horses for Heroes" - successful with veterans.

4.    "Riding in the Moment" - the newest for clients with dementia.

The physics of a horses’ gait (similar to human gait) and the communication/relationship with the animal seem to lead to magical benefits.  An example, Emma’s story, was moving.  Finally, research collaborations, past and future were described including work with CSU, Children’s Hospital and a pilot study with Columbia University.  As always, FCRC members had great questions for our speaker.