Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Therapeutic Riding Program helps people with special needs –

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Therapeutic Riding Show will take place on June 12, but the center is currently fundraising for one of its special programs.

Jessica Gercke, director of public relations for the Helen Woodward Animal Center, joined Good Morning San Diego to explain the benefits of horseback riding therapy.

The program began at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in 1983 and was developed to help children and adults with a variety of special needs, from cerebral palsy to Down syndrome and autism, to stroke recovery and learning disabilities.

Students ride specially trained horses with certified instructors in weekly sessions to develop increased balance and muscle control, improve concentration and short-term memory, and boost confidence and self-esteem.

The program aims to keep learning fun for the Center’s human students and therapy horses by incorporating obstacle courses that allow riders to control their horses through cones and mazes and over poles. Basic riding skills incorporate all parts of the body (hands, legs and eyes) and also help develop core strength and balance by sitting while riding and controlling their horse.

Gercke said: “It takes a special horse to do this unique job and its care is expensive. You can help ensure that more children and adults can enjoy the tremendous benefits of therapeutic riding by donating today for their care.

To donate – Go to www.animalcenter.org/stable-support

For more information about adopting a pet from Helen Woodward Animal Center, contact the Adoptions Department at (858) 756-4117 x313, or go online at www.animalcenter.org.

Benjamin M. Yerger