Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center-Tyler is launching a campaign to build a larger, $1.3 million center on Bascom Road near Lake Tyler next year to provide equine-assisted therapy for the special physical and mental needs of disabled or injured children and adults. The proposed facility would cover approximately 43,000 square feet and include a large arena, multiple therapy rooms, a large family room, offices, and stalls and a tack room for horses. Windridge recently purchased 33 acres of land for the facility. Windridge-Tyler operates under the umbrella of Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center of East Texas, the only equestrian center in the region accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. Windridge’s instructors are also certified. Don Hood, president of the Windridge-Tyler community board, said, “That’s why we are fortunate to have Windridge come into Smith County. It’s an accredited, licensed, respected, beginning-to-become well-known therapeutic riding center.” It is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization. Windridge’s original facility opened in the New Diana-Longview area about 30 years ago. Windridge expanded into Tyler last year upon assuming operation of a small facility on Texas Highway 155 South then known as Spirit Therapeutic Equine Center, operated for many years by Rebecca Mercer, who gave it up for health reasons. According to its website, Windridge’s parent organization was founded in 1988 by Margo Dewkett, an ex-jockey and horse trainer who had a passion for using horses to provide therapy for children and adults with disabilities. Windridge-New Diana was the first therapeutic equestrian center in the state, and Dewkett co-authored the textbook currently used in universities to train individuals pursuing a career in the therapeutic horsemanship profession. Both Windridge-Tyler and Windridge-New Diana have waiting lists of people wanting to take advantage of the equine therapy. For Windridge-Tyler, its waiting list coupled with the current, very limited facility contributed to the decision to propose building a new center. The new center would have a covered arena, which the current facility does not have, to protect those who cannot ride outside in the heat. Also, the new center would accommodate multiple riders at the same time in a 20,000-square-foot arena, so that three classes and sometimes groups of riders could receive therapy at once. It will also serve riders at different levels, from beginners to riders capable of going into an open area where horses go over obstacles or along trails. Windridge-Tyler serves riders with a wide variety of conditions, including autism, traumatic brain injury, stroke, polio, amputees, cerebral palsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention-deficit disorder, abuse recovery, anxiety, depression, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, and Fragile X and chromosomal abnormalities. The process to become a rider at Windridge-Tyler involves an on-site evaluation, followed by obtaining a medical release from a physician or psychologist and completion of paperwork. Riders are then admitted to the program on a space-available basis. Riders usually come once a week for equine therapy, although Windridge-Tyler is open three days a week — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The majority of riders are under 20 years old, although riders have ranged from 4 to 90. For its current operation, Windridge-Tyler has one certified instructor, but more instructors rotate in and out of Tyler from Windridge-New Diana to help provide therapy for the 17 families now served here. While Windridge-Tyler presently has five horses, the new Tyler facility would have 30 to 35. The horses go through a rigorous training program, preparing them to stand perfectly still and calm at appropriate times and to withstand pressures of riders who do not have good mobile skills or total control. All different breeds work, although some small horses are needed for certain therapy needs of kids. Most of the therapy is done as horses walk, although some of the therapy is done at a trot, said John Jones, a Windridge-Tyler volunteer. According to Julie Maberry, director of community outreach in Tyler, Windridge provides three main programs. Therapeutic/adaptive riding utilizes the beneficial movement of the horse while teaching mounted equestrian skills to those with disabilities, producing weight-bearing, joint movement and muscle stretching to those whose exposure to physical exercise is limited. Hippotherapy is designed to help children through the repetition of movement and is used by physical, occupational and speech therapists as a means to help clients work toward therapy goals. The Equine in Service for Heroes is a therapy program designed for military service personnel who have acquired a disability while on active duty or later in life. Hood, the Tyler board president, would like to see the new Tyler center also implement, in the future and in consultation with law enforcement, a Last Chance program for young people in trouble with the law. One is currently operating at Windridge-New Diana, where Hood said it has brought about remarkable bonding and interaction between horses and youth. Each therapy session costs $65. Windridge-Tyler tries to raise funds in the community for scholarships for riders who cannot afford to pay and whose insurance does not cover it. Tyler Oilmen’s Benefit Association contributes $10,000 every year for riding lessons for riders in need, he said. Three volunteers are needed to assist each time a rider gets on a horse for therapy. Presently, Windridge-Tyler has seven volunteers. Hood anticipates many more volunteers, perhaps 200, will be needed when the new Tyler center becomes fully operational in two years. For more information about Windridge, go to www.windridgetexas.org, check its page on Facebook or call Maberry at 903-705-2622. Twitter: @Tylerpaper

Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center-Tyler is launching a campaign to build a larger, $1.3 million center on Bascom Road near Lake Tyler next year to provide equine-assisted therapy for the special physical and mental needs of disabled or injured children and adults.

The proposed facility would cover approximately 43,000 square feet and include a large arena, multiple therapy rooms, a large family room, offices, and stalls and a tack room for horses. Windridge recently purchased 33 acres of land for the facility.

Windridge-Tyler operates under the umbrella of Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center of East Texas, the only equestrian center in the region accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. Windridge’s instructors are also certified.

Don Hood, president of the Windridge-Tyler community board, said, “That’s why we are fortunate to have Windridge come into Smith County. It’s an accredited, licensed, respected, beginning-to-become well-known therapeutic riding center.”

It is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization.

Windridge’s original facility opened in the New Diana-Longview area about 30 years ago.

Windridge expanded into Tyler last year upon assuming operation of a small facility on Texas Highway 155 South then known as Spirit Therapeutic Equine Center, operated for many years by Rebecca Mercer, who gave it up for health reasons.

According to its website, Windridge’s parent organization was founded in 1988 by Margo Dewkett, an ex-jockey and horse trainer who had a passion for using horses to provide therapy for children and adults with disabilities.

Windridge-New Diana was the first therapeutic equestrian center in the state, and Dewkett co-authored the textbook currently used in universities to train individuals pursuing a career in the therapeutic horsemanship profession.

Both Windridge-Tyler and Windridge-New Diana have waiting lists of people wanting to take advantage of the equine therapy.

For Windridge-Tyler, its waiting list coupled with the current, very limited facility contributed to the decision to propose building a new center.

The new center would have a covered arena, which the current facility does not have, to protect those who cannot ride outside in the heat.

Also, the new center would accommodate multiple riders at the same time in a 20,000-square-foot arena, so that three classes and sometimes groups of riders could receive therapy at once. It will also serve riders at different levels, from beginners to riders capable of going into an open area where horses go over obstacles or along trails.

Windridge-Tyler serves riders with a wide variety of conditions, including autism, traumatic brain injury, stroke, polio, amputees, cerebral palsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention-deficit disorder, abuse recovery, anxiety, depression, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, and Fragile X and chromosomal abnormalities.

The process to become a rider at Windridge-Tyler involves an on-site evaluation, followed by obtaining a medical release from a physician or psychologist and completion of paperwork. Riders are then admitted to the program on a space-available basis.

Riders usually come once a week for equine therapy, although Windridge-Tyler is open three days a week — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The majority of riders are under 20 years old, although riders have ranged from 4 to 90.

For its current operation, Windridge-Tyler has one certified instructor, but more instructors rotate in and out of Tyler from Windridge-New Diana to help provide therapy for the 17 families now served here.

While Windridge-Tyler presently has five horses, the new Tyler facility would have 30 to 35.

The horses go through a rigorous training program, preparing them to stand perfectly still and calm at appropriate times and to withstand pressures of riders who do not have good mobile skills or total control.

All different breeds work, although some small horses are needed for certain therapy needs of kids.

Most of the therapy is done as horses walk, although some of the therapy is done at a trot, said John Jones, a Windridge-Tyler volunteer.

According to Julie Maberry, director of community outreach in Tyler, Windridge provides three main programs.

Therapeutic/adaptive riding utilizes the beneficial movement of the horse while teaching mounted equestrian skills to those with disabilities, producing weight-bearing, joint movement and muscle stretching to those whose exposure to physical exercise is limited.

Hippotherapy is designed to help children through the repetition of movement and is used by physical, occupational and speech therapists as a means to help clients work toward therapy goals.

The Equine in Service for Heroes is a therapy program designed for military service personnel who have acquired a disability while on active duty or later in life.

Hood, the Tyler board president, would like to see the new Tyler center also implement, in the future and in consultation with law enforcement, a Last Chance program for young people in trouble with the law. One is currently operating at Windridge-New Diana, where Hood said it has brought about remarkable bonding and interaction between horses and youth.

Each therapy session costs $65. Windridge-Tyler tries to raise funds in the community for scholarships for riders who cannot afford to pay and whose insurance does not cover it. Tyler Oilmen’s Benefit Association contributes $10,000 every year for riding lessons for riders in need, he said.

Three volunteers are needed to assist each time a rider gets on a horse for therapy. Presently, Windridge-Tyler has seven volunteers.

Hood anticipates many more volunteers, perhaps 200, will be needed when the new Tyler center becomes fully operational in two years.

For more information about Windridge, go to www.windridgetexas.org, check its page on Facebook or call Maberry at 903-705-2622.

Twitter: @Tylerpaper

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