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New Mexico State University
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Student volunteers involved in our therapy-on-horseback program help those with disabilities gain strength, independence

Therapeutic Riding Program

Since 2008, volunteers with NMSU's Therapeutic Riding Program (TRP) have been utilizing the bond between humans and horses to help persons with disabilities achieve personal life skills and goals through riding sessions and support.

TRP consists of different types of session-centering around horses-designed to improve the quality of life for people of different ages and abilities by using horsemanship programs and outdoor experiential education to develop confidence, self-worth and active community participation.

One of very few university-affiliated programs in the nation, TRP has served clients ranging in age from 4 to 65 years old. All instructors (who are, for the most part, NMSU students) are certified or are being supervised by a certified instructor while working on their certification.

Last year, the program that has assisted so many received some big help with a planned gift of over $500,000 that will be used to support the goals of the therapeutic riding program and other equine programs. NMSU Executive Vice President and Provost Emerita Wendy K. Wilkins and her husband, Jay Rodman, a senior communications specialist at University Communications and Marketing Services, have already pledged annual giving that they hope is the start of many public contributions to the program to help TRP reach its original goal of $100,000 to build a covered arena.

Another recent fiscal boost came from a $1,500 grant from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation. The money will be used to purchase needed hay to replace what was lost in a barn fire last spring. This will allow other funds to go toward other needed supplies for the program.

"As hay prices increase, it gets harder and harder for us," said Sarah Veeder, an equine science instructor and adviser of TRP. "Our only option to stay open is to increase the prices for our clients, which we're trying not to do. Getting this grant is really helping us keep our prices where they are for the year."

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