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NDSU starts equine therapy program

FARGO, N.D. — People with physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral or mental health challenges will have an opportunity to improve their motor skills, self-confidence, strength and independence through an Equine-assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) program that North Dakota State University's Department of Animal Sciences is offering.

The eight-week session will run from Monday, May 8 through Friday, June 30. The cost for the one-hour-per-week adaptive therapeutic riding lessons is $320. Registration deadline is Monday, April 17. Lessons will be held at the NDSU Equine Center, 5140 19th Ave. N., Fargo.

Individuals must have a physician's release and be evaluated by the EAAT director prior to participating in the program. Riders are matched with horses, depending on their needs and the amount of volunteer support required.

The weekly lessons will consist of warm-up exercises, a riding skill component, a game or activity and a cool-down period.

The Animal Sciences Department previously partnered with Riding on Angels' Wings (ROAW), a local nonprofit organization, on this program, but ROAW closed in February.

Along with providing adaptive therapeutic riding lessons, NDSU is collaborating with Beyond Boundaries Therapy Services, which will offer physical and occupational therapy incorporating equine movement as part of a client's treatment plan. Individuals interested in this service should contact Beyond Boundaries directly at (701) 356-0062.

In addition to offering a service to the community, the EAAT program will give students in NDSU's Therapeutic Horsemanship minor an opportunity to gain teaching experience and provide a research site for studying the effects of animal-assisted therapies. A training for volunteers involved in this program will be from 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, April 27 at the NDSU Equine Center.

For more information about the EAAT program, registration or volunteer opportunities, email Berg at erika.berg@ndsu.edu or call (701) 231-9611.

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