Heather Hernandez, Co Director of the Texas Tech Therapeutic Riding Center said she had a client take her very first steps out here on the sensory trail. She said was pretty amazing to be a part of.
This sensory trail is one thing offered by the Texas Tech Therapeutic Riding Center. A center dedicated to helping children with physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
"We provide equine assisted therapy and activities to individuals with disabilities," Hernandez said.
For one rider’s parents improvements from the therapy are evident. Sabrina and Matthew Martinez said their son does not mumble when he talks.
“We ask him to talk to us right and he talks to us clearly and loudly enough for us to understand what he is saying,” the Martinez’s said. “Before he was really timid and would mumble his words."
Noah was the Martinez’s first child, and a preme, something they said was hard to cope with.
"Noah hasn't had an experience like this before and without this program he wouldn't have that experience,” the Martinez said. “I couldn't give that to him to be able to ride on a horse so it brings a lot of excitement to me to get to see him ride on the horses.”
They said Noah’s problems were most evident in his speech, something he has overcome thanks to the training with his horse blue.
“He likes to be able to tell blue to stop go and slow down,” the Martinez’s said. “And he loves trotting so he likes to be able to tell him to trot."
The Martinez’s, like many of the other families, are thankful for the opportunity given to their children, though not all could have made it possible on their own.
"Most of our clients are on what we call ridership's, which is like a scholarship, so they may not have the financial ability to be able to afford services and that is a big part of our mission to be able to provide equine assisted therapy to individuals regardless of their financial ability," Hernandez said.
Providing the therapy was made possible through volunteers and pairing with Texas Tech University.
“We are one of only eight in the world who have our higher education membership with path international,” Hernandez said. “So students can actually come here to Texas Tech and get certified,"
Being certified allows those students to train at other centers, or open their own. For Hernandez who has seen the effects of therapeutic riding first hand these students do more than just train.