June 11, 2011
Riding High Farm
My oldest son Justin is a confirmed horse lover, and has been happily participating in lessons now for well over a year-and-a-half. When I first started taking him however, I really didn’t think he would last the month. I based this assumption on his attitude during his first encounter with a horse, which occurred through the graces of a fund-raiser for POAC hosted by Rein Dancer Therapeutic Riding Center , an encounter which ended after ten minutes. I can honestly say Justin’s desire to dismount during that period of time was matched only by my aversion to getting off the couch after 9 PM.
Not a pretty sight on either count.
Fortunately, over time my son has not only discarded his disdain for our equine friends, but has come to regard his lesson as the best half hour of his week. For him, this is now an activity that ranks second only to a visit from his “girlfriend” from down the block..
With Justin, women will trump horses every single time.
As his affection for his four-legged pals grew, I began to think that maybe one day we could turn this hobby into a skills-based pursuit, and I started to look around for summer camps for riders with disabilities. Even in New Jersey they are few and far between, but I managed to locate one within an hour or so of our house that has an excellent reputation. Riding High Farm fit the bill, and has been providing quality lessons for individuals who are physically and cognitively challenged for over thirty years.
Last summer Justin not only was able to ride a horse twice a day, he also learned safety tips, grooming skills, and some of the chores necessary to keep such beautiful animals alive. In short, he had a lot of fun, and acquired potential job skills simultaneously. It’s my dream that he’ll live on a farm when he reaches adulthood, and experiences such as this one might help him get such an opportunity one day. I signed him up early this year just to be on the safe side (for my frequent readers, that should surprise no one). I even remembered to check in last week to make sure they’d received my check, and to reassure myself that Justin’s blond mommy had remembered to send in all of the necessary paperwork.
I spoke to the owner who reassured me that all was in order. Then my heart fell as she also shared that this year, enrollment was low. With this economy, that doesn’t bode well for the future. Since this is one of the few leisure pursuits that Justin actually adores, I mean both his future, and mine.
I told them I’d get the word out about this organization, in the hopes they’d procure more patrons for the three weeks of camp they’ll be offering this summer. If you reside in New Jersey and have a child with any kind of disability who’s able to ride, Riding High is definitely a place worth checking out. I’ve posted a few photos from Justin’s experience last summer, as well as the link below. Even if this is not of interest to your child, I’d appreciate it if you could pass on the link to anyone for whom it would.
Last, I’d just like to say that the people who run Riding High are exceptionally kind, and had absolutely no issues handling my (at times) cantankerous child. We only attempted half day camp this year, but things went so well for Justin we’re going to give full-day camp a go this summer. You can bet I’ll let you know how it goes.
Thanks for your time, and Riding High, a special thank-you for giving Justin one of the best weeks of his life in the summer of 2010. His family appreciates your efforts, and we’ll see you in a few weeks!