Creating Confidence and Freedom
Kiwanis Horses & Handicapped, Inc. was founded in 1979 as the premiere therapeutic riding program in South Florida. Over the years the program has grown and currently serves approximately 60 physically and/or mentally challenged riders in both Dade and Broward Counties.
Freed from the confines of wheelchairs or the aid of braces, these riders take to the saddle each Saturday during the months of September through June, and experience a form of independence rarely equaled. All of a sudden they are the ones looking down from the back of a warm animal which is a friend – not just a clinical aid. The riders are in control, which fosters their independence and self-esteem, giving them the added courage to face everyday challenges.
How it Works
The program is free to all participants and their families. For a child to participate they must receive permission from their attending physician. A registered physical therapist works with the riding instructor to set up achievable goals for each rider.
Riders are assisted by volunteers who lead the horses and “sidewalk” on either side. Volunteers are the crucial backbone to the success of this program. They come from our local colleges, high schools, Kiwanis clubs, and the community at large. On average, 18 volunteers are required for each class of six riders.
Riding has been shown to have positive effects on the following disabilities:
- Accident Victims
- Cerebral Palsy
- Down Syndrome
- Emotional Disabilities
- Learning Disabilities
- Mental Retardation
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Spina Bifida
- Visual/Hearing Impairments
Benefits and Improvements
We are proud to acknowledge that riders in the program frequently experience some or all of the following physical and mental attributes:
- Riding Skills
- Muscle Tone
- Trunk Control
- Attention Span
- Friendships between humans and animals
Kiwanis Horses & Handicapped, Inc. is now one of 670 therapeutic riding centers in the United States. As a
member of the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (N.A.R.H.A.) it meets the standards for providing therapeutic horseback riding to disabled individuals, primarily children. The benefits of therapeutic horseback riding have been recognized by many medical professionals, including the American Physical Therapy and the American Occupational Therapy Associations.
Kiwanis Horses & Handicapped, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization which receives no regular income from any sources. Each year we must raise funds from local businesses, service groups, Kiwanis clubs, and individuals for the operating capital. The costs deal primarily with the rental of the horses and the riding sites. There are also expenses for insurance, riding equipment, and equestrian competitions, such as Special Olympics.