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Ride On: Following the horses’ lead with unique therapies

Posted By Karen Young On June 25, 2009 @ 1:12 am In My Daily Find | No Comments

amandatraxler110x1101BY AMANDA TRAXLER

Carrie Ziff, 15, has been taking riding lessons at Ride On, located in Chatsworth, for three years.  “She’s little, only 85 pounds, so it empowers her to be able to sit on something so much larger than herself and have control.  It gives her great confidence,” says Rose Ziff, Carrie’s mother.

Claire Ziff, 15, competed nationally at the Challenge Cup in Kansas and won the top prize.

Carrie Ziff, 15, competed nationally at the Challenge Cup in Kansas and won the top prize.

So much so, Carrie recently competed nationally and won first place at the Challenge Cup in Kansas, competing against 15 other riders.

Ride On, an organization that helps nearly 200 individuals with disabilities each year through several equine-assisted therapies, is ready to move into its new San Fernando Valley home. But to help it get there, the non-profit is going to throw a party – the 4th annual Chatsworth Barn Dance, featuring live music, food and line dancing.

“The money from this fundraiser will go to moving to the new property,” said Pat UpdeGraff, office manager for Ride On, about the event planned for Saturday, June 27.

“Last year we purchased three acres on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, which we hope to move into by the end of the year. That will be the new permanent home of Ride On in the San Fernando Valley.”

Robbie Murphy riding at Ride On in Chatsworth.

Robbie Murphy riding at Ride On in Chatsworth.

The Ziffs travel from Culver City to Chatsworth one or two times a week to Ride On, but they’ll go anywhere they have to for the benefits the organization provides Carrie.  “It’s worth it,” says Rose, “it’s such a safe, warm, loving environment where the kids receive total acceptance.”

According to UpdeGraff, the organization helps individuals of all ages and disabilities.  “I would say number for number, probably close to a third of our clients are in the autistic spectrum, including Asperger’s Syndrome,” UpdeGraff said, “but we serve any and all disabilities.”

Hippotherapy and therapeutic riding are two of the main services available at Ride On–which offers the only accredited hippotherapy program in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Sometimes covered by insurance, hippotherapy emphasizes therapy, requires a doctor’s prescription, and always involves a licensed physical, speech or occupational therapist.

Individuals receiving this therapy can be as young as two, says UpdeGraff, because they’re not learning to ride; rather, they’re doing either physical therapy or occupational therapy on a horse according to a prescription’s instructions.

Natalie Charronat, a Ride On student and her favorite horse, Kharouselle.

Natalie Charronat, a Ride On student and her favorite horse, Kharouselle.

Explaining one way that this can help an individual, UpdeGraff says that every step the horse takes will move a rider’s hips as if the rider walking.

“That’s one very small area it can help in, to develop core strength,” she says. Therapeutic riding, which emphasizes recreation and riding skills, is also available at the ranch…. is for those six-years-old and older. It requires a doctor’s release, not a prescription, as those riders are learning to ride — to the best of their ability.”

Ride On Instructor Sara Jones shares a moment with student Aiden Hotchkiss.

Ride On Instructor Sara Jones shares a moment with student Aiden Hotchkiss.

Though Ride On does receive grants to assist with overall operation, UpdeGraff says that support is welcome at any level-from volunteers to those ready to kick up some dust at the barn dance on the 27th.

The 6 pm event is located at 21126 Chatsworth Street, and will feature country music from the Doo-Wah Riders, as well as road apple bingo and horse shoes.

Tickets are $30 each or $50 per couple and can be purchased in advance. For information, call UpdeGraff at (818) 700-2971 or email pat@rideon.org.

Amanda Traxler is an L.A.-born writer with degrees in journalism from the University of Kansas and creative writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has  been rediscovering her roots since she returned to the area three years ago from the wintry Midwest.

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