North Country R.I.D.E. is a therapeutic horseback riding program that draws clients ages 2 to 71 from St. Louis, Douglas, and Carlton Counties. The clients have a range of disabilities. Horseback riding provides a unique form of physical therapy for North Country R.I.D.E’s clients, called ‘hippotherapy.’ Hippotherapy describes the therapeutic muscular benefits received from riding on a horse. The horse’s movement causes the joints in a rider’s hip to modulate in a manner similar to walking – more so than any other type of physical therapy. For many of North Country R.I.D.E’s clients, their body’s natural reaction to the motion of a walking horse is the closest feeling possible to walking themselves. In addition, the psychological benefits of therapeutic horseback riding for individuals with disabilities are tremendous.
The organization works regularly with schools, group homes, individuals, some nursing homes, and other organizations that serve individuals with disabilities. North Country R.I.D.E. has 275 riders participate, during a season that runs from mid April through mid October. The organization used 250 volunteers to carry out its programs, who did everything from mowing the grass and assisting in the arena to taking care of the horses.
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