|Painting the horse, Good Friday, was one of the activities of the day|
This past Sunday, May 20, Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding (RTT) Center celebrated their 25th Anniversary. The celebration lasted from 12:30 p.m. until 4 p.m., doubling as a fundraiser and brought many people to the facility. The weather cooperated better than the staff and volunteers expected and it led to a day full of great events for a great cause.
RTT is a non-profit organization that focuses on health and wellness via equine activities and therapies to help people with disabilities reach their fullest potential. “We receive no municipal, state or federal funding,” said Sarah Bronson, Executive Director at RTT. “We have wonderful support from our community with individuals, businesses and foundations providing nearly 75 percent of our funding.”
RTT was founded in 1993 and moved four different times in its first four years of existence before settling on its current 50-acre property. The property has seen much growth over the years moving from a strictly volunteer program to a program that employs 6 core staff member and 10 instructors, most of which work primarily part time. There are over 150 volunteers that help make Riding to the Top what it is today. “This is a great place to be,” said Barb, a RTT Volunteer. “It is a place where all you think about is being here because the people you are working with are facing tough situations but do so with smiles on their faces.”
RTT offers many different programs to reach all of the people it serves. “Our clients are very diverse in their ages and abilities,” said Bronson. “Everyone’s journey is different.”
RTT serves approximately 85-95 clients on a weekly basis and over the course of a year; the organization provides services to over 250 clients. One client, Elena, has been visiting the property and participating in the programs for 16 years. As she boarded a carriage to drive Champ the horse, during the celebration, she was delighted and her face lit up with joy.
RTT has helped many people over the years. Bronson reflected on a positive experience of a little boy with autism. After visiting RTT for a period of time, he went from being very timid around the horses to confident. He also has changed his approached in other areas of life. In school, he went from a supported classroom to a typical classroom and is now thriving. “I believe that the positive experiences he had at the farm and his ability to learn about transitions, exploring new things and having success doing this, helped to set him up for success in the classroom,” said Bronson.
Other events of the day included many demonstrations from therapeutic riding, independent riding, and hippotherapy. There were also barn tours featuring a scavenger hunt, self-guided trail walks, grooming demonstration and horse painting. The event welcomed approximately 200 visitors to the property.
If you are interested in becoming a part of Riding to the Top or making a donation you can visit their website at www.ridingtothetop.org/support.php.