Article Written by our Business of the Quarter, Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding
Renee S. Dixon – Executive Director
Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding Program a Premier Center for Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship as well as a Maryland Horse Discovery Center, offers Equine Facilitated Therapy to people who happen to have mental, physical and or emotional difficulties including Military Veterans, active Military and “Kids at Risk”. Our youngest student was 18 months old when he started. Our oldest student was 99 years old when he graduated.
We were the second program in the United States to offer Equine Facilitated Therapy Military Veterans. The Military Veterans come from the Elkton Vet center and the Aberdeen Vet Center as well as individually.
The “Kids at Risk” come from WINN Family Services, Perryville Outreach as well as individually. Many of these organizations serve people in both Cecil and Harford County.
Our Mentally Challenged population come from Bay Side Community as well as individually. We serve approximately 300 students per year.
In 2017 we started an Animal Education Program where we go into the school system with a miniature horse, a miniature donkey, a bunny, some chickens and two ducks. We also take this program to fairs to teach children about animals.
We are proud to be a Maryland Farm Based Education Center where we encourage schools to bring children out to the farm to increase the children’s interest in learning. We also helped write the curriculum for “Maryland’s Equine Farm Based Education”.
The only time an individual with a disability is turned away is if their doctor will not allow them to ride. However, in those cases we offer Natural Horsemanship which is groundwork and the person does not need to ride a horse.
We invite you and your colleagues to come out and visit Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding Program so you can experience firsthand the joy and healing horses offer people.
A VOM representative, Tom Hogate, visited this excellent facility and was given a tour of the facilities.
When I interviewed a female veteran that has had many adversities to overcome. Her name was Cecelia Kress, an Air Force Veteran. She talked about her disabilities and how the Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding Program helped her to overcome them. The tour, including the horse barns, training room, and the arenas were very well cared for and all the associates were actively busy. The days are long and very productive according to Renee.
I was impressed and the associates were very helpful when asked about the facility and what they were doing.
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