Easy Riders

Exploring the power of therapy on horseback

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Located on 25 acres of land in the small farming community of Rehoboth, the peaceful, picturesque grounds of the Greenlock Therapeutic Riding Center could pass for one of the many farms that populate the area. Yet Greenlock has a special purpose: offering disabled children and adults the opportunity to improve themselves physically, mentally and emotionally through horseback riding. Greenlock serves over 200 clients every week, and their facilities include a large indoor arena, an outdoor ring, a sensory trail and a series of wooded trails. The atmosphere is open and inviting. As you enter the grounds, you’re likely to see a number of the specially chosen therapy horses walking about; the staff is friendly and quick to answer any questions.

“Greenlock started in 1989,” recalls Edith Wislocki, the director at Greenlock, who founded the center with Sheila Greenbaum, the co-director. “We leased a farm for three years in Rehoboth. We hoped that we would be successful in this endeavor, and we were.” They moved to their current location in 1992, and about two and a half years into the lease, they were able to purchase it. “When we were leasing the farm, we had to offer riding lessons for both the able-bodied and the disabled, but we really wanted to focus just on the disabled,” Wislocki adds.

She and Greenbaum are more than adequately equipped to oversee the task of running a therapeutic riding center. Wislocki has over 20 years of experience in health and human services, both as a behavioral psychologist and an administrator, while Greenbaum, a former special education teacher, has been active on the boards of several education-related community organizations.

Children who come to Greenlock typically must demonstrate a need for physical therapy on a horse. Hippotherapy and therapeutic riding, as it turns out, cover treatment for almost every conceivable disability. “We start with kids at age two,” explains Wislocki, “with many, many disabilities: cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down’s syndrome, muscular degenerative diseases, autism, pervasive developmental disorders and hyperactivity. We also help kids that have delayed speech and delayed walking.” Therapeutic riding, in particular, also benefits children and adults who suffer from emotional issues, spine and head injuries, stroke, arthritis, blindness and deafness. The positive impact of equine-based physical therapy, it seems, cannot be overstated.

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