As we all learned in elementary school here in New Jersey, our state animal is the horse. There is a very special place with some very caring people who are using the horse for a very noble and worthy cause.

Mane Stream uses equine therapy to improve the quality of life for individuals with physical, developmental, emotional, and medical challenges. It was founded in 1972 by Octavia Brown on her farm in Bedminster.

In 1994, the organization known then as Somerset Hills Handicapped Riders Club, was able to purchase a 12-acre farm in Oldwick in Hunterdon County. The name was changed to The Mane Stream in 2012 and is only the second of its kind to offer this kind of equine therapy to people with a myriad of challenges.

(Photo: Lucia Macdeo, Unsplash)
(Photo: Lucia Macdeo, Unsplash)

This nonprofit utilizes interactions with horses to improve strength and balance, as well as increase self-confidence and self-esteem.

Throughout the sessions, riders will learn horsemanship skills such as grooming, tacking, and riding. They’ll also learn how to communicate with their horse and gain a better understanding of their body language. All of these activities are designed to help riders gain physical and mental strength, as well as create a strong bond with their horse. It's called hippotherapy, which is a specialized form of physical, occupational, and speech therapy that also uses interactions with horses.

(Photo: Kenny Webster, Unsplash)
(Photo: Kenny Webster, Unsplash)

During their sessions, riders will use the horse’s movement to improve posture, balance, coordination, and strength. The horse’s movements will also help to stimulate the rider’s sensory system, and improve overall mental wellbeing.

With a variety of programs and services, Mane Stream is committed to helping riders of all ages and abilities. Find out more how you can donate, participate or volunteer in this unique New Jersey treasure.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.

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