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CB 10 parks committee considers therapeutic riding center

An Equestrian center that provides horseback riding experiences to disabled children and injured veterans has been proposed for Pelham Bay Park. Tje NYC Parks Department is expected to study the matter.

Community Board 10’s Parks Committee heard a presentation on Monday, January 10 from The New York Therapeutic Riding Center which is hoping to expand its equestrian program, which helps children with physical, mental, or emotional disorders, as well as disabled veterans, get treatment by ridinghorses.

Sometimes the riding is for recreation or vocational training, but more often it is for physical and occupational therapy.

The program is currently based in Manhattan, but is seeking to relocate to the Bronx so it can expand.

After hearing the proposal, the Parks Committee recommended it be taken to the Borough Parks Office for further study. The committee could not agree on a specific location in Pelham Bay Park suitable for the center. An unspecified site in Pelham Bay Park near Pelham Bay Station had been discussed.

The project would require anywhere between two and three acres of land.

“Equestria wants to build a facility in Pelham Bay Park to accommodate a therapeutic riding academy,” CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns said.

“Equestria thought it was a good location because it was close to the handicapped accessible subway station, and to buses which are also accessible.”

Kearns said the Parks committee pointed out to the organization that there were other parks close to handicapped-accessible trains and buses.

The New York Therapeutic Riding Center is planning to take the concept to Parks’ Bronx Borough Office, Kearns said, to discuss the concept of a therapeutic riding academy, which is new to the borough.

According to the proposal, physicians and physical and occupational therapists often prescribe Equestria for the rehabilitation of their patients. The program has worked with the Bronx VA Medical Center and Montefiore Medical Center, the report stated.

It was the center’s innovative use of horses to help returning veterans who have sustained injuries in foreign wars that attracted CB 10 Parks Committee member Pat Devine to the project.

Devine said that he has seen the effect that riding a horse can have for someone injured in war and believes the program should come to Pelham Bay Park.

“I am especially excited since they brought the Wounded Warriors into the program,” Devine said.

“You can lose limbs, but if they put you on a horse, you get your life back. Seeing the look on a veteran’s face when he or she is riding a horse, is a great thing.”

Also writing letters of support for the establishment of a therapeutic riding center in the borough are Congressman Jose Serrano; Leroy Archible, president of the National Association for Black Veterans’ Bronx chapter; Thomas McAlvanah, president of the Bronx Mental Retardation Council; and P.S. 168 principal Rosa Nieves Greene.

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