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Therapeutic horseback riding restorative, empowering experience for district students

Goshen schools have been partnering with Winslow Therapeutic Center in Warwick since 2019 to share the physical, cognitive and emotional benefits of therapeutic horseback riding with students. 

What began as a program at Goshen High School expanded to the C.J. Hooker Middle School later that year, and to Goshen Intermediate School and Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School in 2020.

This spring marked the start of a new season for students to work with Winslow’s horses and trainers.

Director of Pupil Personnel Services Dr. Heather Hendershot explained that Winslow uses hippotherapy– a physical, occupational, and speech therapy that utilizes a horse’s natural gait and movement to provide motor and sensory input. 

“In addition to targeting symptoms of various conditions and disorders, it is theorized to help participants build confidence, self-awareness, and empathy,” she said.

Students said they enjoyed riding the horses, walking with them, and feeding them hay, grass and dandelions.

“It’s nice to see the connection between the students and the animals,” said GHS Teacher Charles Doyle. “You see students loving nature with animals. Sometimes things can be difficult for them, but the horses feed off their vibes. They’re really calm. It’s really cool to see.”