Ride to Walk began with one pony named Freckles that Dr. Kristine Corn purchased locally. Freckles was kept in the corrals behind Sierra Pediatric Therapy Clinic and began with rides up and down the driveway. Kris had to learn how to bridle and care for Freckles. About this time Judy McNabb, a riding enthusiast, became acquainted with the program. She also wanted to get a riding program together for handicapped children but she didn’t have a therapeutic background. The riding program began.
We began riding at a volunteer’s arena once a week. Initially there were about five riders and their parents, as volunteers, leading and side walking. We were at the clinic nine months and then moved to Dr. & Mrs. Lischner’s off of Barton Road, where they, too, gave graciously of their facilities and of their time. We were still trailering the horse for our one-day a week ride.
In 1987 we were introduced to the manager of the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville and we began to contract with the fairgrounds for facilities. During the four years we were there, we broadened our base of volunteers, began a successful Bingo game which allowed us to hire one full time staff member, three part-time staff and contract therapists to provide therapeutic input during each riding session.
We serve children from approximately age two and up from all over Sacramento and Placer Counties.
Ride to Walk is unique as it is a riding program based on therapeutic intervention. Many riding programs in existence are run by individuals who do not have a therapy background, making the program recreationally based. Because of the thrust of our program, we are able to serve children who have neurological deficits stemming from birth trauma, head injury, spinal deformities and effects from drug, alcohol and stroke.
As medical technology is saving more and more of these children, we will continue to see a growing need for programs for the handicapped that offer recreation as well as therapeutic. Our therapists are all registered therapists who have had special training for working with neurologically involved children, and have received special training for using the horse as a therapeutic modality.
Many of the children we serve are seriously ‘physically involved.’ This means there is an intense therapeutic program requiring three to four volunteers to allow each child up to a 30 minute riding session. We have a few independent riders, which may only require one or two volunteers. Volunteers make it all work!
Ride to Walk moved to its new permanent home, a 21-acre piece of property with a 6-acre lake, in Lincoln, CA. Although it has been a long time coming, the vision of Executive Director Kris Corn is to see children with all kinds of disabilities find recreation and therapy to increase the quality of life, at a permanent site. With this move will come the ability to provide day camp programs for the children in the handicapped community. The new property will help us to realize that vision as we continue to expand and grow and partner with other groups and organizations to provide an atmosphere where the entire family of those who are disabled can recreate together. Our efforts have led Ride to Walk to become a model to the community to demonstrate what can be done for these children and their families.