NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Coastal Therapeutic Riding Center in New Hanover County is helping the physically challenged overcome big hurdles.
Riders at the facility won't let their physical circumstances slow them down. It's no surprise to Kim Niggel, Program Director, who believes everyone can benefit from riding. "Horses have kind of a magical effect on humans," she said.
If you're not convinced, you might want to meet a very excited and ambitious young man, Brandon Valentine, who has gained positive results from the horseback riding program. "I was walking, trotting, playing basketball...," he said proudly.
Valentine is one of approximately 30 riders at the center. The instructors specialize in working with people of all ages, from toddlers to adults. The staff members all share a common goal - to make the riders healthier, in every sense of the word.
"The movement of the horse simulates our movement," said Niggel. "So people who aren't able to walk, it helps simulate movement you would naturally have walking. It strengthens all their core muscles and sends messages to their neuro-pathways so they can continue to develop with walking or balance and strength," she said.
In addition to permanent staff members, the center operates with help from the community through volunteers, such as high school students from the YMCA and others who are devoted to promoting the program.