BIG DoG: People with disabilities R.I.D.E. for therapy, better lives

Therapy horseback riding through Project R.I.D.E. helps more than 500 children and adults with disabilities in the Sacramento area.

R.I.D.E., or Riding Instruction Designed for Education, helps riders improve their physical, emotional and social functioning through a structured horseback riding program. It is also part of the BIG Day of Giving (BIG DoG) event on Tuesday, May 6. During BIG DoG, donations made to Project R.I.D.E. and other nearly 400 Sacramento area non-profit organizations will get a boost from a pool of $300,000 in matching donations.

The riding program gave 6-year-old Alex Taylor a change of perspective. He has Cerebral Palsy, congenital cataracts, a hip disorder and an immune disorder. His mother Teresa Taylor told BIG DoG organizers Alex wasn't afraid of the horses, who were calm and gentle, and didn't want to leave.

"When you're someone who can't walk and you're on the floor a lot, you see a lot of feet and behinds, but when you're up on top of a horse, you're not afraid," Taylor told organizers. "It's not overwhelming, it's something where you're on top."

According to Project R.I.D.E., the riding lessons "improves [riders'] balance, posture, flexibility, sensory awareness and endurance in addition to increasing confidence, self-esteem, self-discipline, motivation, attention span and integration with non-disabled peers."

After about a year, Alex had to stop taking riding lessons for a few months to have double hip surgery. Taylor said her son was so weak afterwards that he could barley sit up. With the help of Project R.I.D.E., six months later, Alex's strength was beyond where it was before the surgery.

"His muscle tone has gotten better, he's a lot stronger, he sits up really straight," Taylor said. "Him being on the horse along with all the other things he's doing, helps the healing process go faster. When you're on the horse it imitates how you walk and so it's brain patterning for the brain to say ok, this is how my body should be moving when I'm walking."

During BIG DoG, donations to Project R.I.D.E. will help pay for equipment, the horses' up keep and keep the cost of lessons low. You can support Project R.I.D.E. at

Learn more about Project R.I.D.E. at

News10 is supporting the Big Day of Giving by providing information about the local non-profits participating in the one day fundraising event on May 6.


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