Therapeutic Riding Center Opening in the Tri-Cities

Horseback riding is becoming more than just a recreational sport.

Now people are using it as a form of therapy, and one local woman has taken it upon herself to open the first therapeutic riding center in the Tri-Cities.

Cynthia MacFarlan has been a speech therapist for over 30 years.

She siad after seeing the positive effects animals had on therapy she made it her mission to open a non profit combining the two.

"I had my patients come here during or after therapy and I kept seeing the benefits of what a horse or dog could do, I just knew that was a service and wanted to provide in my heart," said MacFarlan.

MacFarlan started putting together, therapeutic riding of Tri-Cities, also known as TROT about a year ago.

TROT has an Adaptive Riding program for people with special needs such as downs syndrome or mild autism.

MacFarlan said the Adaptive Riding program is designed to be like a recreational sport for people with disabilities.

"Each horse and rider, and sidewalker, and horse leader will be a team and each team will get to have that participant ride as independently as possible."

TROT will also provide hippotherapy, a rehabilitation strategy using the movement of the horse to influence the motor and sensory skills of the patient.

Seven-year-old Isabel has epilepsy and is non-verbal.

MacFarlan is using hippotherapy to help Isabel make connections in her brain between seeing pictures of things, like an apple, hearing the word, and making the sign.

Isabel's mother Katie Rios, said being on the horse heightens Isabel's focus.  

"The rhythm of the horse makes all of her muscles engage and it makes new connections in her brain and that's what we are looking to do for everything every day," said Rios.

She said they have done hippotherapy in the past and even though Isabel couldn't say it, her mother knew by the smile on her face she was enjoying it.

"She's very globally delayed so everything she does there is a delay, so anything that makes her happy I want her to be able to do."

Even though Rios wanted Isabel to do hippotherapy the closest clinic was 30 minutes away and the financial burden was just too much.

Rios said it's a blessing to have a place like trot right here in her back yard.

"Some therapies we have to pay out-of-pocket for and it's expensive. Right now I don't have to choose between therapies," she said.

Right now TROT is still in its pilot program phase and is working on fundraising before they hope to have their grand opening in spring of 2015.

They are accepting participants, you have to fill out a participant from on their website, click here