GallopNYC Proves People Can Benefit from HorseTherapy
Using the healing bond between man and horse—GallopNYC’s therapeutic services are making difference in the lives of hundreds of children and adults with visible and non-visible health issues in the metropolitan area. Steve Adubato talks to the Director, Alicia Kershaw, and Paul Hinton, whose son benefits from the program.
"We are pleased to welcome Alicia Kershaw, who is the Executive Director of GallopNYC, and Paul Hinton, parent of a GallopNYC rider. Good to see you both. Thank you. Good to see you. GallopNYC is? It's a therapeutic horseback riding program for people with disabilities. It started 12 years ago you were just telling me. Yes. 12 years ago. And who are the participants in it? We have about 600 riders every week now. We define disability very broadly. 52 percent of our riders are on the autism spectrum. And the rest have a wide range of disabilities. Cerebral palsy, disabilities I never even actually was familiar with before I got involved in this. We also work with at risk youth, with wounded veterans, visible and invisibly wounded veterans, kids in counseling, so we do take quite a broad range. But it's almost entirely young people with disabilities. And volunteers are key to your success? We are utterly dependent on our volunteers. This is why we'll put your website up. Thank you. Yeah. And talk about your connection? Well, I'm just luck enough to have had the opportunity to bring my son to Gallop riding sessions. And he's one of the kids who has CP, who has probably one of the more sort of, significant physical disabilities, which makes it clear why having so many volunteers is so great. Because when he's riding... Is that your son? Oh it is, yeah that's Sam. That's Sam? Yeah. [laughter] Yeah I mean look how many volunteers there are who are helping in there, so it's for him just the effort of holding his body up straight and holding his head is a tremendous effort. And you know, as you walk on a... the horse walks, he has to constantly rebalance his body, and that's essentially how he's getting physical therapy, and developing his musculature while he's doing this. But you can see how much joy he gets out of it. It's an amazing activity because there aren't that many activities where he can both be getting the sort of therapeutic value, at the same time, getting so much joy out of it. And he achieves the mobility that he wouldn't otherwise have, because he can't walk. And so it's quite a unique experience. What's it doing for you? Well, I mean... To see Sam? To see him doing that, it is rather special to share that with him, and actually the volunteers get to share that too. Right. I mean he is a kid who... he gives it back. And so it is an amazing experience to be there. But I think in terms of..."