San Marcos nonprofit RED Arena aims to help people with disabilities through equine therapy

The vision of the nonprofit began in Dripping Springs with only one horse, six riders and a handful of volunteers,  (Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)
The vision of the nonprofit began in Dripping Springs with only one horse, six riders and a handful of volunteers, (Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)

The vision of the nonprofit began in Dripping Springs with only one horse, six riders and a handful of volunteers, (Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Now the nonprofit's San Marcos location serves about 50 people every week through therapy, riding lessons and educational programs. (Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Equine-assisted physical and occupational therapies use the motion of the horse to improve posture, motor skills, mobility, coordination and other treatment goals. (Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)
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"Our horses are definitely our most valuable amazing resource,” Young said. (Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The nonprofit also developed an eight-week horse camp active during summers that is inclusive of everyone in the community. (Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Horseriding lessons are available to anyone in the community, with or without disability. (Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)
RED Arena, a nonprofit founded in 2008 by pediatric physical therapist Jennifer Young, is an organization that aims to support children and adults with disabilities through equine-assisted therapy.

The vision of the nonprofit began in Dripping Springs with only one horse, six riders and a handful of volunteers, Young said. Today the center serves over 150 people in Dripping Springs. The nonprofit now also has a San Marcos location and serves multiple counties.

“Our goal [is] for everyone [to get] stronger, better balance and coordination, and able to progress into riding lessons,” Young said. “So this can be their sport or their hobby and still get a great benefit: the physical strength, the sensoring processing and just the recreational activity of being on horses.”

Many patients being assisted by the nonprofit have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism or sensory processing disorders. Other patients have experienced a stroke or head injury. Young said these are only some of the disabilities that can benefit from horse therapy.

Both locations of the nonprofit offer equine-assisted therapies, also known as hippotherapy, to help patients improve coordination, posture, mobility, range of motion, sensory processing and motor skills. Other programs offered at RED Arena include therapeutic riding lessons to help promote independence. Horseriding lessons are available to anyone in the community, with or without disability. The nonprofit also offers educational programs that consist of job training, social skills groups and reading to horses.


The nonprofit also developed an eight-week horse camp active during summers that is inclusive of everyone in the community. Young said it was important for her to be inclusive, regardless of ability or disability, and the camp was a way to do that.

“I think it’s really incredible how horses can have such an impact—a positive and powerful impact in so many ways—so we just want to try to maximize the resources that we have, and our horses are definitely our most valuable amazing resource,” Young said, noting that the addition of the educational programs was a way to expand and involve patients’ families while also including the community.

RED Arena in San Marcos serves about 50 people per week using five horses. The nonprofit plans to expand by adding two more horses to this location. Young said the location has the potential to house 16 horses and serve 200-300 people among all programs.

“Our mission is to empower individuals with disabilities through horses,” Young said.

RED Arena

1708 Centerpoint Road, San Marcos

512-807-6505

www.redarena.org

Hours: see website for program information


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