Special Strides is a non-profit organization devoted to improving the lives of individuals with life challenges through physical and occupational therapy, adaptive riding and therapeutic driving.
How do physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists incorporate hippotherapy into their plan of care?
When incorporating hipppotherapy into the plan of care, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists integrate the motion and “E-motion” of the horse to facilitate functional changes in areas such as sitting, walking, talking, playing, and learning. The impact of manipulation of equine movement on strength, mobility, balance, and coordination allows therapists to create a powerful individualized plan of care to achieve treatment goals. The emotional connection that develops between horse and client improves awareness, communication, and self-esteem in ways that other forms of therapy cannot. During a therapy session at Special Strides, clients may also explore the sensory playground and wooded trails, All of these therapeutic tools are offered in a peaceful natural setting not found in a traditional treatment clinic.
What is Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy?
Mental health practitioners can use the affordances of the equine environment to impact the emotional state of an individual. Therapeutic sessions are typically non-mounted and address issues with anxiety, PTSD, behavioral issues, depression, and many others.
What is Adaptive/Therapeutic Riding?
Certified adaptive/therapeutic riding instructors teach individuals with special needs the skills necessary to participate in a recreational activity of immense therapeutic value.
What is Adaptive/Therapeutic Driving?
Therapeutic Driving is carriage driving specifically directed by a certified driving instructor specializing in teaching individuals with special challenges. Using a horse and carriage allows participants an alternative experience to a mounted equine activity that improves self confidence, bilateral motor control, and teaches direction following and cooperation skills.
Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) is a non-mounted, hands-on program. The clients will learn to care for and interact with horses as well as understand the horse’s behavior and be able to transfer that information to their everyday lives.
Where is Special Strides located?
Special Strides is located in Central New Jersey in Monroe Township. Our home is on a beautiful 210 acre farm named Congress Hill. Special Strides is accessible from the New Jersey Turnpike, Route 33 and Route 9. Facilities include indoor/outdoor riding arenas, wooded sensory trails and treatment rooms in our renovated offices.
How do I get my family member involved in the program?
Give us a call at 732-446-0945 to set up an evaluation and a tour of the farm and visit our prospective participant page.
Who benefits from therapy including equine movement?
Many individuals with motor, sensory and communication challenges will benefit from this unique therapy experience. For those with primarily communication and auditory processing problems the horse offers a unique companion and an extremely motivating reason to communicate. To be able to stop a huge horse with a simple command “whoa” is an unparalled experience. For the individual with Cerebral Palsy or other neuromotor syndromes causing low muscle tone or diminished motor control, the horse offers a movement experience that cannot be replicated in any clinic. The symmetric movement of the horse mimics human gait and provides very powerful neuromuscular information to the nervous systems. In addition, someone with sensory processing and a diagnosis in the Autistic Spectrum greatly benefits from this sensory integrative experience.
Do you use Volunteers?
Yes, we use adult and teenage (age 14 and older) volunteers. We use volunteers with horse experience and those without. The volunteers that have experience with horses are then specially trained to assist with our horses. The volunteers without horse experience are utilized as sidewalkers during our treatment sessions and adaptive riding lessons. We also provide ongoing volunteer workshops for training. In addition, volunteers also help support our fundraising efforts.
What is a “sidewalker”?
A sidewalker is a volunteer, or another therapist, who is alongside the horse to assist the therapist and to provide additional stability and safety to the rider. They also engage in therapeutic activities such as singing songs and playing games.
How long is a therapy session or riding lesson?
Most sessions are 45 minutes in length.
Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy at Special Strides costs $150/45 minutes. Adaptive riding costs $75/45 minutes. Therapeutic carriage driving costs $80/lesson. Equine facilitated learning (EFL) costs $75/45 minutes. Therapy sessions are partially subsidized by the ongoing, intensive fundraising efforts. We also provide financial assistance annually to some of our patients and riders. It is our mission to be able to provide all individuals who are in need of our services with assistance. In 2019, $130,000 has been granted to over 70 clients/riders in financial aid through the Steven Werthan Memorial Scholarship Fund.
What are the operating hours of Special Strides?
Special Strides runs throughout the year rain or shine. The only exceptions being extremes of temperature. We provide services Monday through Saturday.
What type of fundraising do you do at Special Strides?
We have an annual fundraising campaign sponsored by the Junior Committee and the Kids Klub. Our Annual Barn Benefit Dance held in October features entertainment, live and silent auctions, and a riding demonstration from our clients. The Spring Fair and Horseshow rounds out our fundraising efforts.
How do I become a Special Strides Sponsor?
There are many sponsorship opportunities available throughout the year from Corporate Sponsors to private/individual donations. Please call 732-446-0945 or email Laurie Landy at LLandy@specialstrides.com or Susie Rehr at SRehr@specialstrides.com for more information.