Therapeutic Riding

Charlotte Parent|April 2020

Therapeutic Riding
Teaching confidence, focus, and friendship, one ride at a time
By Vanessa Infanzon

Wendy Schonfeld fell in love with horses in the unlikeliest of places: New York City. At age 14, she took three buses to a city barn in The Bronx so she could ride a horse on a strip of land in the middle of a highway.

Her love of horses continued into adulthood, and in 2013, Schonfeld opened RideAbility, a therapeutic riding program for adults and children, with two horses on a 15-acre farm in Clover, South Carolina. RideAbility has 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and offers a range of equine-assisted activities to promote emotional, physical, psychological, and social well-being.

“Since I was little, my love for horses was so tremendous,” Schonfeld, 54, says. “When our daughter was born with leg disabilities, riding horses was her passion. She was able to be just like everyone else—succeeding and being proud of herself. I wanted to be able to do that for other kids and families. Let them know how strong our kids are and that they can do it all.” other kids and families. Let them know how strong our kids are and that they can do it all.”

Before moving to South Carolina, Schonfeld lived on Long Island where she worked as a chiropractor. She also volunteered at HorseAbility, a therapeutic riding program that served as her model for RideAbility.

BUILT TO SUCCEED

Each rider at RideAbility gets an individual lesson plan based on his or her abilities and goals. Riders might focus on attention, balance, core strength, focus, or memory skills. Activities like brushing the horses, working on an obstacle course, or completing tasks around the barn help riders gain skills and build confidence.

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April 2020