Rolling Ridge Riding, Inc. is a therapy based horseback riding program for children with disabilities located north of Reidsville in Rockingham county. Rolling Ridge Riding was founded by a pediatric physical therapist in 2000. Since that time, it has grown into a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that serves children with special needs free of charge. Children and volunteers come throughout North Central North Carolina and South Central Virginia.
Rolling Ridge Riding offers two programs. Therapy riders attend on Monday nights in segmented rides from spring to fall. These children receive therapy on horseback from licensed physical, occupational, and speech therapists who volunteer their time. These therapists come from the Rockingham Co. Schools, and Morehead Mem. Hospital. EC teachers and other educators from the Rockingham Co. School system also participate. A special basic educational curriculum is presented to the children while they are in the riding ring on horseback. Children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, developmental delays, autism, genetic/congenital birth defects and neurological disorders such as tumors, stroke, and varied forms of paralysis or developmental delays experience the joy of outdoor exercise, therapy, and friendships with as much support as is needed for them to accomplish goals such as learning to sit up, walk, or even talk. Some of our autistic children who aren’t talking at school are talking/saying words on horseback!
On Saturdays, the Equestrian Team mounts up to learn to ride and this team goes on to compete in adapted classes in horse shows. They have shown in the Equestrian Special Olympics, and in the 4H. This year, they also competed in a couple of open horse shows here in Rockingham County!
Rolling Ridge Riding provides a place where parents can find a support system, children who are “different” find friends, self esteem, and soar to achieve new accomplishments. High school and college students find Rolling Ridge Riding a great place to perform community service, and to be exposed to many different occupations as well. Many of our volunteers have gone on to colleges to major in pediatric therapies, nursing, and EC educational careers. One of our volunteers is currently in college preparing to get into veterinary school. Rolling Ridge Riding has interacted with A&T State University’s exceptional children’s program, & Winston Salem State University has had two of their occupational therapy students affiliate with Rolling Ridge Riding. It takes 3 volunteers for each handicapped child to ride.
Rolling Ridge Riding serves 45 to 50 special needs children each season. It has been estimated that over $1,000,000 of free therapy services have been donated in our area since the year 2000! It is a gathering place that brings people of all races and abilities together to form a very positive community.
So how is Rolling Ridge Riding able to give away so much, not charging for the horseback ride, tutoring, or therapies? Rolling Ridge Riding requires that all families who are served participate in fundraising activities. The horse care budget alone is in the $35,000 to $45,000 range per year. Additionally, money is required to provide for insurances for the Rolling Ridge Riding truck, horse trailer, and liability, and items to support the therapy program.
Rolling Ridge Riding is dependent on donations, fund raisers, and searches out and competes for grant monies as well. There is no guaranteed income to keep this community outreach going. It depends squarely on the participation and willingness of the families who come to help it continue each year as they commit to help work in fundraisers.
For information on fundraisers, please check the Rolling Ridge Riding website at www.rollingridgeriding.com, or get in touch with the executive director Kathryn Davis, Physical Therapist, at (336) 349-4702.