Jan. 19, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan
A non-profit offering therapeutic horseback riding lessons to people with mental and physical disabilities has acquired stables in Forest Hills.
Non-profit GallopNYC, which operates out of six stables in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, bought its own property for the first time earlier this month, taking over the former Lynne’s Riding School at 88-08 70th Road in Forest Hills.
“This will allow us to really expand and reach more people,” said GallopNYC Executive Director Alicia Kershaw, explaining that by owning a stable rather than renting time with horses and space at other properties, the group will be able to offer many more lessons at different times and be much more cost effective.
The organization operated out of Lynne’s for about five years, and owner Lynne Holzhauser began thinking of retiring, bought out the property. The former owner also donated 15 of her horses and equipment to the program and will remain deeply involved.
According to Kershaw, the organization services about 450 riders per week at the six locations throughout the city, but owning the property will allow the organization to offer lessons to hundreds more students off of the waitlist. Once in full swing, she said the Forest Hills facility alone would offer near 300 lessons per week.
GallopNYC plans to offer primarily therapeutic lessons out of the property, though it will also offer limited riding opportunities for students who are not disabled.
“We think inclusion is really important, important to have therapeutic and non-therapeutic lessons side by side, and we don’t want to walk away from those who were already using the facilities to ride,” said GallopNYC Executive Director Alicia Kershaw.
Therapeutic horseback riding has been proven to help those with mental and physical disabilities build developmental, emotional, social, and physical skills. Kershaw added that in addition to riding, GallopNYC allows people with disabilities to help take care of the horses and work in the stable, offering a chance to learn real world, marketable skills.
The organization is primarily volunteer-based, and people can get involved regardless of their experience level with horses. To learn more about the organization and volunteering visit http://gallopnyc.org/how-to-help/volunteer.