Spotlight on Business
GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center
GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center’s mission is to improve the quality of life of children and adults with special needs through equine activities and therapies resulting in a more independent life in society. Whether you were born with a disability or suffer from trauma or the world’s stresses GAIT offers a respite and a place to grow, heal and develop.
“I always knew that horses were good for the soul and I found out that they are good for the brain and for your physical body. There’s so much they can offer to people who have any sort of disability or handicap. It’s amazing how quickly the individuals respond to the horses and the horses respond right back, so it’s really a wonderful process.” -Sandy Stalter, Board of Directors President, GAIT TRC.
It takes a special kind of horse for therapeutic riding. For Martha Dubensky, Executive Director and Founder of GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center, it was the horses that inspired her to start this endeavour.
“Some horses can’t tolerate being led by different people within an hour, being walked beside which is very confining to a horse. They don’t like that claustrophobic feeling of having someone on either side and they’re not used to that and then having a rider that’s unbalanced, maybe screaming, maybe kicking and it takes a lot for a horse to tolerate something like that.”
“From the second I saw these horses change their demeanor from high powered sensitive show horses to, OK now I’m going to carry this boy, from the city, with special needs, who’s a teenager and doesn’t know anything about horses and I’m good with that. The transformation is amazing. And so I realized not only can horses plow our fields and take us to war and provide our transportation but look what else horses can do for us, I was blown away. That’s how it started, my inspiration.”-Martha Dubensky
“Everything is great at GAIT!”
The volunteers at GAIT are an integral part of the organization. GAIT draws people who are interested in working with horses, improving the lives of individuals with disabilities or even improving themselves. Volunteering at GAIT is an extremely rewarding experience where you have an opportunity to be physically active, socially engaged and learn new skills all while benefiting the community and the lives of people with special needs.
“The rewards are enormous.”
GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center offers a number of programs that include:
Therapeutic Riding focusing on riders in a group setting to improve balance, posture, trunk control, sensory processing, communication skills and socialization skills.
Hippotherapy is a treatment tool using the multi-dimensional movement of the horse, which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. This improves the strength, balance and coordination of the rider. GAIT’s PATH International Certified Instructors coordinate with state-licensed therapists (Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, and/or Speech-Language Pathologist).
Equine Facilitated Learning is a method of teaching positive, effective patterns of social interactions and communications. These sessions are conducted by an equine professional who develops activities using the horse to address emotional and behavioral characteristics of the individual.
Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy sessions are conducted by a state-licensed therapist who has training and experience to diagnose and manage mental illness. The sessions are always assisted by an equine professional trained in equine assisted learning/psychotherapy.
Vocational Training program is designed to help high school students with special needs transition from school to the work environment.
Equine Services for Heroes program provides therapeutic riding services to the injured veterans, police, firefighters and EMTs who may suffer injuries from emotional, physical or mental traumas.
The parents of riders talk about what GAIT means to their families.
GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center is located in Milford, PA. For more information visit them on the web at http://gaittrc.org/.
Photos and videos by Jess Wolk