Campaign aims to bring indoor therapeutic riding arena for children and adults with special needs

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (May 29, 2013) – Residents within the Middletown community and across Connecticut may know of Manes & Motions Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc., but most may not understand its purpose for children and adults living with special needs, along with the program’s current limitations.

As the only therapeutic horseback riding center in the nation that is affiliated with a hospital, Manes & Motions provides cognitive and physical benefits through the use of equine-assisted activities to children and adults living with a wide range of conditions including autism, Down Syndrome, spinal cord injury, spina bifida, brain injury, cerebral palsy, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

However, the program is currently limited to April through October and becomes inactive in the winter, leaving its special needs horseback riders with no opportunity to ride. That’s why, Manes & Motions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hospital for Special Care, is launching an Indoor Arena Campaign to raise funds that will help provide a riding experience for program participants year-round, regardless of the weather.

“When evaluating the impact of our therapeutic riding program, weather is a major contributing factor, and with no current indoor accommodations, our program must shut down for nearly six months each year,” Janice Anderson, Facility Coordinator, Manes & Motions. “Additionally, if it is raining or too hot in the direct summer sun, special needs riders also have to miss sessions.”

Riders like 13-year-old Stephen, who utilizes Manes & Motions to improve circulation, muscle control and coordination. Stephen has difficulty with gross motor control, and riding his horse, “Rosie” requires him to engage his muscles and rebalance himself. Several years ago, Stephen stood unassisted for the first time after a two-week intensive program that combined therapeutic riding and conventional physical therapy.

Sensory integration is another struggle for Stephen as he avoids certain textures and smells, but riding a horse stimulates those senses in a setting that he is comfortable with. And, because of Rosie’s fine-tuned responses and desire to please, she is extremely effective in creating a bond with Stephen, encouraging further communication and interaction.

“Sports and activities are a large part of a childhood experience, and therapeutic horseback riding is Stephen’s sport,” said Stephen’s mother June Macary. “It’s an empowering experience for him to control a 900-pound animal, but unfortunately, we have had to forego several lessons due to the weather causing Stephen to miss out on certain values he learns from this experience – teamwork, confidence, self-control and self-esteem. An indoor arena would solve that problem.”

The Indoor Arena site plan calls for a 10,580 square-foot indoor riding arena plus a classroom, observation area, offices and restrooms at a cost of $600,000.

Our Future Indoor Arena

Research shows that individuals who participate in therapeutic horseback riding can experience behavioral, cognitive, creative, emotional, linguistic, physical sensory and social benefits. When riding a horse, Manes & Motions participants are given the opportunity to feel freedom and empowerment through movement.

For more information on Manes & Motions, or to find out how you can help the Indoor Arena Campaign, please call Linda Glovna at 860.612.6312, or visit