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Equine-assisted Activities/Therapies Program Coming to NDSU

A rider works on warmup exercises during a therapeutic riding lesson. (NDSU photo) A rider works on warmup exercises during a therapeutic riding lesson. (NDSU photo)
The program will run from May 8 to June 30.

People with physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral or mental health challenges will have an opportunity to improve their motor skills, self-confidence, strength and independence through an Equine-assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) program that North Dakota State University’s Department of Animal Sciences is offering.

The eight-week session will run from May 8 through June 30. The cost for the one-hour-per-week adaptive therapeutic riding lessons is $320. The registration deadline is April 17. Lessons will be held at the NDSU Equine Center, 5140 19th Ave. N., Fargo.

Individuals must have a physician’s release and be evaluated by the EAAT director prior to participating in the program. Riders are matched with horses, depending on their needs and the amount of volunteer support required.

The weekly lessons will consist of warmup exercises, a riding skill component, a game or activity and a cool-down period.

“Riding a horse requires coordination, balance, concentration and communication - all valuable skills outside the arena,” says Erika Berg, an associate professor in the Animal Sciences Department. She also is the EAAT program director and a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International advanced instructor.

The Animal Sciences Department previously partnered with Riding on Angels’ Wings (ROAW), a local nonprofit organization, on this program, but ROAW closed in February.

“Because of ROAW, people in our area have a greater awareness of the positive impact partnering horses and humans can have on everyone involved,” Berg says.

Along with providing adaptive therapeutic riding lessons, NDSU is collaborating with Beyond Boundaries Therapy Services, which will offer physical and occupational therapy incorporating equine movement as part of a client’s treatment plan. Individuals interested in this service should contact Beyond Boundaries directly at 701-356-0062.

In addition to offering a service to the community, the EAAT program will give students in NDSU’s Therapeutic Horsemanship minor an opportunity to gain teaching experience and provide a research site for studying the effects of animal-assisted therapies. A training for volunteers involved in this program will be held Thursday, April 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the NDSU Equine Center.

For more information about the EAAT program, registration or volunteer opportunities, email Berg at or call 701-231-9611.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - April 4, 2017

Source:Erika Berg, 701-231-9611,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391,
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