Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding
A nonverbal child is motivated to speak his first words. A wounded military veteran regains strength and lost mobility from a horse’s steady gait. A special education student gets much-needed exercise and acquires new motor skills.
Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding (CATR) is the Lowcountry’s oldest nationally accredited therapeutic horseback riding center. Since 1991 the organization has provided hundreds of riding sessions for children and adults with disabilities. Founded by horsewomen Meta Carter and Eileen McGuffie, CATR has grown from a handful of private students to teaching over 150 students a year. Under the leadership of Executive Director Murray Neale, the organization also partners with six to eight public schools a year, working with countless children with disabilities who would not otherwise have access to this specialized therapy.
Neale, who has spent her career working in therapeutic riding, explains the benefit of a horse’s movement for a physically disabled person. “The horse’s gait moves the pelvis with the same movement as walking and stimulates an upright posture. The four legs provide a rotational component—steady and rhythmic.” Astride the back of a horse, a nonambulatory person can gently and effectively build core strength and develop better control.