One of the beauties of living at the Jersey Shore is the short distance to so many wonderful treasures and activities. This week, it’s horse riding in Farmingdale, NJ. This is our 4th riding lesson of the fall season with Miss Renee, and the weather — a splendid 70-degrees — couldn’t more perfect.
Horseback riding is for all ages, but today, we are here for our kids. Of course the parents get the beneficial by-product. It’s quiet on this farm, so we look at it as a way to get 45 minutes to just decompress. Yep, you can do that on a farm, if you let yourself.
Riding lessons for kids, like many activities, is an investment into building and shaping their character over time. Horse-adventures.com writes about 10 ways that horses does this for children. In a nutshell, kids learn responsibility and trust; patience and self-discipline; respect and most importantly, they learn to have fun. Horse-adventures goes into detail to explain the benefits of horses for children. Read it here.
Riding into the Sunset
Getting in a horse riding lesson during the week can be tricky with all things considered like the time school ends, homework, snack, etc. Plus, the sunlight hours are fewer and the chill comes earlier in the fall season. But we do what we can, and today’s lesson is wrapping up as the sunset starts its vibrant colors. It’s one of those beautiful fall days that we all must take a moment to enjoy. This time, it’s accompanied by my very proud and contented 9-year old who runs to me, elated to report the positive feedback she received from Miss Renee today. “A quick learner,” was the first accolade she bestowed, and “I love how you try,” was the second. But the one that resonated most was, “You’re very focused.” Oh, the smile of pride on her face and confidence that those words gave her was priceless, and at that very moment, I felt my heart fill with joy. Ahh, these riding lessons are just what the doctor ordered, at least for our family.
Taking Special Strides
Farmingdale is home to many horse riding facilities, and as you head west there are plenty more. About 40 minutes NW from Manasquan, NJ is Special Strides, a non-profit therapeutic riding center that provides physical and occupational therapy, adaptive riding and therapeutic driving to individuals with life challenges. They incorporate hipppotherapy (equine assisted therapy) into health care, whereby they integrate the motion and “E-motion” of the horse to help individuals with motor, sensory and communication challenges.
In their website, they explain it laymen’s terms. They state: “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.”
Start Lessons or Volunteer
Most sessions with Renee or at Special Strides last about 45 minutes. Special Strides accepts adult and teenage (age 14 and older) volunteers, with or without horse experience.
We couldn’t be bigger advocates for riding lessons, for kids of all ages. If you’re thinking about doing something different, why not give it a try? For more information, email Renee at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Stride Rite at 732-446-0945 to set up an evaluation and a tour of the farm.