Most us have gone through some type of physical or occupational therapy, What better way to start healing than doing it on the back of a horse? Paula Del Giudice, Executive Director with Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center, – joined me on the show today to talk about the amazing work they do. Their mission is to “transform the bodies, minds, and spirits of people with disabilities”.
Little Bit was founded in 1976 by Margaret Dunlap, who had Multiple Sclerosis found that being on the back of a horse slowed the advance of her disease. Margaret was determined to offer similar support to her community with therapeutic horsemanship, through Adaptive Riding, and Hippotherapy. It is now the largest riding association in the state of Washington, and one of the largest in the country. Named after Margaret’s horse at the time, Little Bit.
Paula and her team help over 260 riders and patients each week with 29 horses and the help of more than 350 volunteers. Working with certified Physical Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, and Occupational Therapists they help people with disabilities from ages 2 up to 90 years in age. Just 45 minutes sitting on a horse can help with core muscle strength, and sensory work to help them function in daily life.
Little Bit offers several services for their clients such as Adaptive Riding which is a “recreational horseback riding lessons for individuals with special needs”. Riders learn horsemanship and riding skills in an environment tailored to their individual needs and learning styles. Their new Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) program offers tools in “mental health therapy, specifically targets people with mental and emotional health issues, stemming from traumatic life events, chemical imbalances”.
Donations and the help from the community is crucial for Little Bit’s success. For the last 15 years Windermere Bellevue Commons has helped Little Bit help prepare for their annual horse show at the end of June – it is honestly a highlight of my year. This year they will continue their show, with some restrictions, and are also doing a golf tournament, September 9th to help raise money. You can visit their events page for upcoming dates.
Little Bit offers several ways you can get involved. If you would like to become a patient, you can fill out their online application, or if you’re looking to volunteer you can visit their get involved page for more information. Don’t miss out on their awesome Summer camps for people with or without disabilities. Donations are also always welcome! If you’d like to make a donation you can visit their donation page.
If you are someone you know is going through physical therapy and are looking for a different approach I highly recommend you visiting Little Bit! For more information, and to contact them you can visit their virtual tour. Follow them on Facebook for upcoming events. Check out their inspirational, and success videos on YouTube.