My youngest son Graham (age 6) has severe emotional and behavioral problems that may be due to early onset bipolar disorder. Regardless of the “label” or diagnosis, Graham’s world is certainly a very troubled place as he struggles with symptoms of both mania and depression, with constant shifting between rage and despair. As a result, Graham is so rarely “at peace”; instead, he switches between manic, anxious, confused, irrational, remorseful, irritable, angry, physically aggressive and verbally abusive. Nonetheless, we know, underneath it all, there is the “real” Graham, an incredibly loving and sensitive little person that is perceptive, clever, energetic … and best of all … HAPPY. For many years, we have been on a quest to understand the basis of Graham’s problems and how best to serve him therapeutically. We first learned about the program at NCTRC via his occupational therapy group. I think the biggest revelation for me was that NCTRC serves those with both psychological and physical challenges. Years ago I had heard about the benefits of assisted horseback riding for people with physical limitations so it had never occurred to me that Graham would be a candidate for this type of therapy. Once I understood the mission of NCTRC, I factored in Graham’s love of animals and thought it would be a great match for him. Graham started riding at NCTRC in the fall of 2013. Although I so desperately wanted him to connect with this activity, you never know what will happen with a volatile child that has difficulty with transitions and can be reluctant to attempt new tasks. Well, now I know I shouldn’t have worried because Graham took on this challenge with ease and confidence. He is so serious and focused when he is in the saddle, I can hardly believe he is the same person. I am at a loss to define the exact magic formula for this transformation, but my guess is: (patient and gentle horses) + (patient and gentle instructors) + (fun and supportive volunteer side-walkers) + (friends to ride along with) + (trotting) + (barn cats and barn swallows) + (peaceful and beautiful countryside) + (cowboy boots) = calm and happy Graham. No other activity seems to have this type of soothing power, allowing him to be attentive and cooperative throughout the entire session. He has completed two “semesters” of therapy and very much looks forward to coming each week. And you better believe we will be back next year!! He has been asking to sign up already. I believe Graham has developed a special sense of achievement working with horses, since not all kids (regardless of ability) have access to riding. He is very proud to tell people about his riding experience, listing the names of all the horses and barn cats, and how he earned ribbons at the annual horse show. Our family is *so* grateful that Graham has had the opportunity to be part of this unique program, one that seems to touch him very deeply and profoundly. The NCTRC has ABSOLUTELY fulfilled our family’s deepest desire for Graham to have something special in his world … the special thing he CAN do, the special thing he can rely on to bring him joy, even in the shadow of his deepest troubles. We will be forever grateful for the volunteers, staff, and donors of NCTRC.
Working as a volunteer at the North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center these past few years, I have witnessed so many special moments. I love seeing the joy on the riders' faces as they greet their equine friends or when they manage to successfully master a task they have been working on for a while.
I love seeing the students interact with each other and with their instructors, sidewalkers and leaders and seeing their pleasure as they feed a treat brought from home to their horse at the end of their ride. I love seeing how a hyperactive child calms down as soon as he sits in the saddle. Most of all I love seeing the relationship between the horse and rider, both giving to each other. It is clear to me that families enjoy every minute they spend on the beautiful farm. NCTRC is a very special place, run by incredibly kind, experienced and energetic people. It costs money to feed and care for a healthy herd but it is money so well spent.
I have served on the board of directors for the past 4 years. At the time I was being interviewed to possibly become a member I had the opportunity to talk to some of the parents who were at the farm while their children were riding. Each parent's testimonial convinced me hook, line and sinker that this was the organization that I wanted to be a part of. It made me realize how fortunate I am to not have a child with such a debilitating disabilities as our clients do. NCTRC provides a specialized service that so improves the quality of life for disabled children (especially those with severe autism) and their families. I can not imagine what these families would do without NCTRC.
The North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center provides therapy that results in emotional and psychological and even physical benefits to its riders. I am amazed at and delighted with the extensive dedication of the staff and volunteers involved in this marvelous non-profit.
As a board member of the North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center, I am most impressed with the dedication of its volunteers, professionals and board members in their efforts to promote the effectiveness of the Center on all levels. I have personally witnessed "lessons" and been myself rewarded by the happy faces of the riders. There is no doubt that the clients experience positive psychological and therapeutic results.
I am happy to be a donor to NCTRC because I have seen first hand what occurs when children are exposed to the joy and also the responsibility of horses and riding. There is something quite extraordinary that occurs. As an rider and horse-owner for many years, I had first-hand experience in just how children's lives can be transformed by a relationship with these wonderful animals. As a visitor to NCTRC in Mebane, I was even more impressed by the kindness of the volunteers and their dedication to the children and the horses who are in the therapeutic riding program. All of those who work there--volunteers, board members and parents, are outstanding. To see the smile of the face of a child who rarely express emotion, or to witness a child who's been confined to a wheelchair moving freely on a pony is almost a miracle. I cannot praise enough this program and the incredible work it does.
The outstanding work that NCTRC does is unmatched in service. From the friendly welcoming enviroment, to the caring amd compassinate instructors and staff. I see the benefit to its riders and families. Moments that connect for the rider are a joy to watch. The reward for the family is to see their rider light-up and progress, only re-enforces that the work NCTRC does it vitally important.
This is such an amazing organization that I have been proud to be part of on various occasions. The work that is done by the hardworking staff and volunteers shows how much they really care for the cause.
I've attended a few events with the NCTRC over the last year and the work they do at the farm is truly amazing and inspiring. At the events, they share testimonials of what the therapy does for their clients and it's so wonderful to hear how the horses can transform a person with a cognitive disorder. The work that the NCTRC does is so important! It's wonderful to see the support at the fundraising events of a truly outstanding organization.
I have been volunteering with North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center for a couple of years now and it has been one of the most fulfilling decisions that I've made in a long time! The impact, not just on the riders and their families was no surprise to me.....but the impact it made on my life was something that I didn't expect. Working with EMS and emergency medicine for the past 11 years, I've seen many critical situations and have felt frustrated and helpless too many times to count in my career. Volunteering with NCTRC is such a positive, worthwhile experience that it serves as a form of therapy for me, as well as the beautiful children I work with!! In the medical field, we refer to a medication that has a desired effect on a disease that it wasn't initially designed for as an "off-label" medication. This is how I feel when volunteering with this wonderful organization....it not only benefits the children and adult riders tremendously, it is also my "off-label" therapy and wonder-drug after what may have been a sad and frustrating work week :)
Thank you NCTRC for all you do for the community!