At Riding to the Top, the entire farm experience is a learning tool for the riders. Each week, almost one hundred people with disabilities come to the farm. They can be as young as 3 years old, and some are even older than 80. No matter what the disability is – whether it’s down syndrome, cerebral palsy, emotional disorders or learning disabilities – all clients benefit from RTT’s programs.
RTT offers therapeutic riding, equine assisted learning, hippotherapy, and even therapeutic carriage driving. The programs have different activities and focuses. Riders start with stretches and warm-ups, then move on to introductions and hellos, which helps them socialize and leave their comfort zone, then move on to grooming and tacking. Though these tasks may seem basic, the human-animal connection works like magic.
Sarah Bronson, executive director of RTT, shares that “so many people think of riding as just the act of riding itself, but it’s really about communicating with the horse.” The incredible therapeutic horses at RTT make it all possible. Right now, there are 16 horses that work in the programs. They have all been carefully chosen for the job, and they are carefully paired with riders based on personality and the rider’s needs.
Over 65% of RTT’s clients are children. Recently, RTT has been working with local schools in the Portland area. King Middle School, Bayside Learning Community, and STRIVE have all seen the progress their students have made at RTT.
The kids that come to the farm have had hard lives. Some have been homeless; others have suffered hunger or experienced abuse or addiction in their homes. They come to RTT during their school day and experience what it’s like on the farm. They are able to form friendships with the staff and volunteers, and bond with the horses.
Rebecca Platz from Bayside Learning Community shares about the changes she’s seen in kids that go to RTT. “The changes that I have seen in my students have been remarkable. When we are at the farm, they feel safe enough to show up as the best version of themselves. What that means is that they make safe choices, they are respectful to other people, and they have fun, and they laugh. They are able to see themselves differently and are not limited by the labels that people have given them or the traumatic events that have happened to them.”
Support RTT as they help students be the best version of themselves by checking out their website or making a donation today.
How to Contact This Farm:
14 Lilac Drive
Windham, ME 04062