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.
NCTRC provides an invaluable service to its students. I am grateful for any opportunity to support such a special organization. It's volunteers, staff and board members are unparalleled.
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!
This is a truly extraordinary organization with an amazing group of dedicated volunteers and a wonderful group of people who are served by NCTRC. I've volunteered for many years and have watched the organization grow from a small group of dedicated volunteers on several different farms into one large center with wonderful facilities and ponies/horses serving children and adults with disabilities. I cannot think of a better organization for which to volunteer.
The NCTRC impacts the lives of riders and their families, who may have not been able to find the desired effect with other therapies or settings. Amazing things are done year round and the instructors/volunteers are dedicated to making a difference! This organization demonstrates their commitment to the mission with every decision and every rider interaction.
I have been a Registered Instructor at the North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center for over 28 years. Many times people ask me why I still teach and what is so special about this program.....there are 100 reasons why I have stayed – the look on a rider’s face when they connect with their horse; the smile of a parent who watches their child and for a short while forgets that their child has a disability; the smiles and the hugs our riders give to the volunteers and horses; the compassionate and dedicated volunteers; the smile of a rider who may not talk, may not walk, who may feel different, but on the back of a horse can do anything; the celebration of the small successes with a rider who has worked hard; knowing I have the opportunity to work with other dedicated professionals who believe in our work; the “warm and fuzzy” feeling I always have when I finish working with our riders, no matter how bad my day may have been; all of the riders who have each touched my heart...
I happened upon NCTRC by chance, and attended one of their fund raising events on a beautiful summer evening in August. As we arrived on the farm and joined the activity, a sense of peace and care washed over us. Their were families perusing around the farm, kids eating ice cream and playing with each other, and smiles on every single face. They had arranged a demonstration with riders from their programming, to show visitors what can be achieved on a horse. I was blown away! Why did it take me so long to find this place? I asked to speak to someone about volunteering and Ive never left.
I have been involved with horses my entire life through riding, training, farm management and veterinary assistance care. I was so pleased with the condition of the horses, the expertise of the instructors and the dedication of the volunteers. Mostly I was astonished to see the effect that the horses had on their riders. Riding has always been therapeutic for me, but I had no idea what level of relief it could provide to those who truly needed it. You can see the pride, accomplishment and joy in the eyes of every rider, every day.
I am beyond blessed to have the opportunity to be part of the experience for the riders at NCTRC. I plan on spending the rest of my life involved with this organization in any way possible. It is truly the best investment of my love and time that I could ever make!
In 20+ years of involvement, I have continually seen NCTRC create increasingly impactful change in the lives of clients. It is truly incredible what can be accomplished by putting a child or adult with a disability on a horse. Equally importantly, NCTRC strives to follow best practices, ensure safety at all times, and is a careful steward of donated funds.
NCTRC has been around on various farms since our daughters were high schoolers looking to do some volunteer work. They are now in their 30's and our oldest has continued to volunteer and support NCTRC in many capacities, serving on the board, teaching riding, even as director. After 20+ years, NCTRC has the potential for a home farm and the growth that will serve the population it is meant for. The program staff has always been very safety minded, very professional, with many physical therapists doing the hippotherapy and teaching the classes. The farm they are trying to purchase is beautiful and has the ideal indoor arena so classes go on regardless of weather. They serve students of all ages and abilities, and now are trying to add classes for wounded warriors. The VA has a facility in nearby Durham and they should have this component available. This Center is recognized and valued by the community. They offer the opportunity to have therapy outdoors doing a 'normal' activity with animals. The horses are expensive to maintain, everything has gone up. It is too easy to say, this is too expensive and too hard to offer. It enriches lives of people who are at a disadvantage, it allows people who love animals, the access to share their lives. I hope you will support this organization and help them continue in their dedication and ambition to build a world class center for therapeutic riding.
If you ever wanted to ride a horse, or you love horses, you understand why this organization is so valuable. For people who are physically challenged, NCTRC gives an opportunity to ride with safety, mobility and the joy of 'doing'. The act of riding is stretching and comforting to muscles that must be worked for health, but the joy of being one with a horse is a special gift. It is liberating, it is loving. The staff and volunteers at NCTRC are special people who meet a big overhead every month to keep horses fed and fit to ride. Tthey fall in love again during every class --ith students, the horses and the positive, magical atmosphere of Clearwind Farm. We donate time, financial support and I was on the board. I consider NCTRC most worthy of support, It is an outstanding organization, a very special place in North Carolina that we should all support.
In my experience as a volunteer with the North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center (NCTRC) I’ve volunteered as a horse leader for classes, and been trained and certified as a Special Olympics Equestrian Coach.
NCTRC makes miracles happen. I have seen children and adults with traumatic brain injury, blindness, mobility problems, and mental illness; improve balance, strength, relaxation, speech, social skills, and confidence. It's just amazing!
If you like a volunteer activity that makes your face hurt from smiling, this is the place for you.
I've volunteered at the NC Therapeutic Riding Center and cannot imagine a group more dedicated to the nurturing of children With disabilities. Outstanding!
NCTRC is a miraculous place! Dedicated volunteers and staff consistenly welcome and work with adults and children of all abilities. Using horses as a "therapy tool" they guide and assist their clients (and clients' familes) in their quest for independence and confidence.
The facility, Clearwinds Farm, is a dream location! They have a farmhouse that serves as office and "hotel " and classroom for workshops and visitors. They have a huge covered arena and outdoor arena. This allows them to work in most any weather. There are beautiful rolling pastures and lots of farm animals to enjoy.
The programs are year round with all abilities camps in the summer in addition to therapy sessions.
NCTRC hosts teaching seminars and certification classes for therapeutic riding instructors. They also work with nearby universities on research projects to better understand the impact and effectiveness of hippotherapy.
This organization has evolved over many years into a powerful service group with a major impact!
I have seen the great strides that therapy riding can accomplish in so many different individuals, as a result of the work of dedicated individuals at NCTRC. The benefits of therapy riding are not ones that should be understated, and I hope more organizations such as this keep working as tirelessly as it does!
I have been on the Board of Directors of NCTRC for about 2 years now, and have been continually amazed by the quality of work the organization does and the effect it has on the lives of its participants. NCTRC is a great demonstration of what a talented and dedicated group of individuals can accomplish to improve the lives of others. Seeing children and adults with physical or mental challenges giddy with excitement and pushing their own limits is truly an awe-inspiring experience. The connection between horses and people that NCTRC fosters is clearly therapeutic and is a huge positive in the lives of people with some major challenges.
I first became affiliated with the NCTRC back in the fall of 2009 through a friend of mine who is a current board member. My company offers service volunteer grants to any organization that employees support, so I had asked her how I could help out. She told me they were looking for some volunteers to help spruce up the place, so I got together around 20 of my co-workers and headed out to Clearwind farm to paint the interior of the farmhouse. When we first got out there I couldn't believe how nice the facilities were! Over the course of a couple of days we had finished painting, and I had gone back to my normal life.
The next week I got a call from Robin Barefoot, who is the current head of the board, thanking me for helping out and inviting me out to actually come see one of the sessions. I accepted her offer and came out there one afternoon to see what therapeutic riding was all about. What I saw changed me- there is no way that you could look at the look of joy on those kids faces and not feel your heart melt a bit. Talking with the parents of these children who have been dealt a bad hand in life was even more eye opening. They all told me how much the programs offered by NCTRC had helped the development of their kids and the effects they had seen in their motor skills, balance, and general demeanor and attitude. I went home that day knowing I had seen something truly amazing.
I proceeded to help out the planning for a fundraising event that spring centered around the Preakness, and after that I received another follow up call from Robin asking If I would be interested in joining the board. I have done and continue to do a lot of work with the Special Olympics of North Carolina (interesting aside, the volunteer coordinator for the SONC who I worked with is actually Dot Kohlbach, who was one fo the orginal founders of the NCTRC back in 1977- small world!) so I'm pretty passionate about enriching the lives of people who have developmental disabilities. I'm not a horse person at all , but I know what I had seen was something special and that I wanted to be a part of it. I accepted her offer and joined in the summer of 2010. In the last two years, I have seen the organization grow and evolve in ways I would have never thought possible in such a short amount of time. It has become a sustainable, strategically guided organization that really makes a difference in hundreds of children's lives in the greater Triangle area.