BRISTOL – Shepard Meadows Therapeutic Riding Center is able to offer free programs that allow residents to groom, walk and visit with therapy horses thanks to a City of Bristol Community Development Block Grant.
Emily Eschner, director of programs at Shepard Meadows, located at 733 Hill St., said that visitors will be able to schedule visits to interact with specially trained therapy horses free of charge while funds last. They will be able to lead and groom the horses in a “safe, caring and professional environment.”
“We’ve been offering a 45 minute visit to Bristol residents free of charge,” she said. “People can participate as individuals or small groups. We try to encourage a ‘bubble’ system like siblings, neighbors or whomever you feel safe with and are together with already.”
Eschner said she anticipates that funding will allow free visits for “at least the next couple weeks” depending on how busy the riding center gets. Funding for the grant is provided through the C.A.R.E.S. Act.
“This is such a special place up here and we want to be able to share it with more people,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know that we’re here and that we’re open and welcome everyone. We hope that being able to offer these free programs will spark some interest and that we’ll gain some more friends in the community.”
Eschner said that the visits offer a nice, relaxing break from the day to day routine.
“It’s nice being outside in the fresh air,” she said. “It’s a safe environment and wide open and these visits do wonders for people. Some people really enjoy having a nice quiet time and taking a breather in a therapeutic atmosphere. Others really get into the grooming and asking questions about the horses.”
Eschner added that riding programs will be starting back up April 5 for an eight week session. There are classes for both beginners and those with advanced experience.
Over the past two years, Shepard Meadows Therapeutic Riding Center has constructed new pastures, new sheds and recently completed a covered riding area. This, Eschner said, will soon allow them to offer riding programs year-round.
For more information or to register email Eschner at email@example.com, visit shepardmeadows.org or call 860-314-0007.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.