The healing power of horses

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Horses can help heal.

The Coastal Therapeutic Riding Program (CTRP) is an oasis for the children and their families who go there to ride horses.

During their lessons, the children – with wide smiles on their faces – light up, use words and bond with animals and the volunteers.

Kim Niggel started the program in 1999.

She said the program is good for body and soul.

"They learn a lot of fine motor skills and gross motor skills," she said. "There's a lot of engagement of their muscle and their core muscles. It's a great experience for them emotionally to bond with the animal. They get a lot of social interaction with the group and the volunteers and the staff and it's just an all around good experience for all of them."

Niggel said she sees improvements in the children and adults who participate in the program.

"We have amazing stories of little ones who were non-verbal that were starting to make sounds and form words because they were excited about what they were doing and distracted by the love of their ponies but they bubbled into interacting with their staff," she said. "The horses we have, we are so blessed, they are all very tuned in to their very special job and they love their job."

Niggel said she hopes to build a covered arena at the site, located at Russell's Reach, 8120 Sidbury Road in Wilmington.

Niggel said they miss about seven days a month due to rain or poor weather conditions.

"That impacts these children and our other riders that are adults because when they miss a session they start to lose some ground," she said. "It's real important for them to have that consistency."

You can learn more about the program at

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