Pegasus Therapeutic Riding: Giving Students Wings to Soar Past Challenges

Source:  News Release/Emily Riden for PMG Inc.




Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Gives Students Wings to Soar Past Challenges



Brewster, NY -  Since its founding in 1975, Pegasus Therapeutic Riding has touched the lives of thousands of individuals with needs. In partnership with their therapeutic horses, Pegasus students have found the strength, the freedom and the wings to rise above their physical, cognitive and emotional challenges.


One former student summed up the experience perfectly when she said:


"Riding with Pegasus gave me wings and a sense of accomplishment. Finally I found a sport that I was able to excel at. In the saddle, I for once felt 'normal.'"


This young woman is one of many military veterans, people with special needs and at-risk individuals who benefit from the equine-assisted therapeutic programs Pegasus offers.


On May 17-18, 2013, the 32nd Annual Pegasus Horse Show will allow these students to showcase their accomplishments and abilities for the families, friends, staff and volunteers who believe in the opportunities and benefits Pegasus creates.


Laurie Howlett is among those parents who have seen the difference that Pegasus can make in the life of a child, and she shared the following:


"My 20-year-old son, Luke, has multiple developmental delays. Inherent in the special needs journey is isolation, and consequently, loneliness. Pegasus, however, is the great equalizer, for when on the horse, the rider is no longer defined by his/her diagnosis, and those moments are glorious; a glimpse in to normal."


Grace LaBarre demonstrates her half-seat while trotting at last year's Pegasus Horse Show.
Photo Credit: Christine Fitzgerald/Pegasus Therapeutic Riding. 


Another mother, Karen LaBarre, wrote of her daughter Grace (pictured): "My daughter has Hypotonia, a disorder that affects motor nerve control by the brain, muscle strength, speech, social and sensory issues...There are not enough words of thank you to Pegasus when your child, who struggles every day with walking, especially on stairs, is doing a half-seat while trotting, giggling up a storm with pride."


Over the two days of the Pegasus Horse Show, riders like Luke and Grace will demonstrate what they have learned in their weekly therapeutic lessons. Each student will receive a ribbon in recognition of some aspect of his or her riding, such as best position, best half seat or best use of aids.


"This experience has opened up a whole new wonderful world for Luke that puts a smile on his face and most importantly, in his heart," Howlett said.


The students and their families aren't the only ones reaping the benefits of the programs Pegasus offers. One teen volunteer eloquently explained how she too has grown from her time with Pegasus:


"The most powerful lesson that I have learned as a therapeutic volunteer turns out to be a very personal one for me-it is about invisible efforts. By this I mean that on the outside, the work that we do as volunteers doesn't look like much; we guide the horses, hold up the children, or gently encourage them. Also, from an onlooker's perspective, the children don't appear to be working so hard; they just seem to be going along for the ride. But one day, something amazing happens. One day, an eight-year-old boy suddenly sits upright in his saddle-alone-and without our help. What most people wouldn't realize is how many months or years he had been 'invisibly' squeezing his muscles into the saddle or side of the horse, building his strength, balance and confidence. When I see how all those efforts add up over time, I am reminded to believe in my own struggles. These young riders, together with the leaders of the program, have helped me see myself in ways that my everyday life never could."


The programs that Pegasus Therapeutic Riding offers and the Annual Pegasus Horse Show would not be possible without these dedicated volunteers and the generous donors and sponsors who underwrite more than 90 percent of Pegasus' annual budget.  


To learn more about Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, the 32nd Annual Pegasus Horse Show and how you can get involved, visit


Pegasus Therapeutic Riding offers programs to more than 225 individuals each year at four regional chapters: Pleasantville, N.Y.; Greenwich, Conn.; Darien, Conn.; and Pegasus Farm in Brewster, N.Y. All programs are led by Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) certified physical therapists, occupational therapists, licensed educators and therapeutic riding instructors.


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