Families invited to Therapeutic Equestrian Center’s 8th of July festivities

By Alison Rooney

Cold Spring’s nonprofit Therapeutic Equestrian Center (TEC) will open up its paddocks, rings and stalls to the public this Sunday (July 8), as riding demonstrations, a therapeutic riding show, antique carriage rides and more fill the day. The Demo/Expo, one of two yearly fundraisers for TEC, will get going at 9:30 a.m., rain or shine (most of the activities take place indoors, under one roof) and gets underway with a demonstration of dressage from Susan Stegmeyer of Kingdom Keys Dressage. Western Pleasure and sidesaddle techniques will also be presented.

At approximately 11:30 a.m. some of TEC’s young volunteers will form a drill team and will show their accomplishments to the crowd, accompanied by music.

To fuel all this activity and the watching of it, Garrison’s Appalachian Market has donated a large supply of hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. The Labriola family – Art, Stacy and Sara — will provide the entertainment, volunteering their time.

Tack room

At around 1 p.m., the highlight of the day will take place as TEC’s clients, all riders with some form of disability, will present a riding show, demonstrating their newly-acquired skills for their families and the sure-to-be-applauding public.

Demonstrations of “natural horsemanship” from Long Island’s Tim Hayes and  carriage driving from the Mid-Hudson Driving Association round out the day’s activities, with a 4:30 p.m.


Admission is $5 per person, $20 per family and is paid at the door, however reservations are essential for a head count necessitated by parking restrictions.  To reserve call 845-265-3409, ext. 11 or email [email protected]. For those not familiar with the riding center, Philipstown.info visited TEC last winter, and the following is an excerpt from a feature story written at that time:

There is no specific ‘just right’ horse at the Therapeutic Equestrian Center (TEC).  In fact, the 10 horses in current residence differ from each other in age, breed, height, girth and temperament, because the clients of the center each have different needs and capabilities. The most crucial characteristic required is that each horse must be ‘sensible and grounded’ according to TEC director, Garrison’s Leslie Heanue, who founded the center in 2009. With a​​​ mission to provide therapeutic and recreational riding for physically and developmentally disabled children and adults, TEC’s horses ‘need to be balanced and fit,’ according to Heanue. … The horses that fit the bill at TEC range from 4 to 28 years old; some have bigger barrels (ribcage area), which can help support clients with balance issues; others have the narrow shoulders necessary for clients with less mobility in their hips and the spread of their legs.

Horse stalls

TEC offers both therapeutic riding, by PATH-trained (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) riding instructors, along with other equine-assisted therapies. … Therapeutic riding is an individualized program of learning how to ride a horse, taking into account a person’s strengths and weaknesses, with the physical goals being improved strength, balance mobility and coordination, and cognitive goals of increased attention, concentration, learning and verbal skills.  Improvements in self-esteem and confidence are by-products. … TEC’s clients encompass both children and adults, and their programs are designed to benefit those with conditions or disabilities including autism, Down syndrome, head trauma, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and more.

The physical setting and structures at the center are breathtaking. Situated on a hill adjacent to Stonecrop Gardens along Route 301, the compound is located atop a hill, surrounded by a pastoral landscape. There are four grass paddocks, an outdoor riding area and two sand paddocks. … The entire structure is handicapped-accessible, with the 20-stall barn connected to the other building; the connector holding a grooming area and a tack room.

Indoor riding arena

With a small staff … TEC is reliant upon a large contingent of volunteers, and currently has about 70.  There are currently about 30 clients, most of whom come from referrals from agencies, and also from research and internet searches. … Once a client is accepted, he or she attends a six-week-long session, and these sessions are currently offered four times per year. … According to the Putnam County Division of Planning and Development’s most current census, there are over 12,000 persons with disabilities (ages 5 and over) in Putnam County.

A 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, TEC’s fees do not cover its expenses, with insurance companies limiting coverage to specified occupational and physical therapy only, therefore grant applications are a big component of TEC’s administrative side. … All of the horses are donated, and often the donors come and visit their horses. There is also a ‘sponsor-a-horse’ program whereby contributors can choose to support a particular horse for a year. Volunteers (and donations) are still very much needed, and one doesn’t need experience with horses in order to help. Heanue reels off any number of areas needing assistance: grant writing, reception/phone answering, outdoor bulb planting, cleaning, etc.” (The full story may be found HERE.)

​​For more information visit their website.
Photos by A.Rooney

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Rooney has been writing for The Current since its founding in 2010. A playwright, she has lived in Cold Spring since 1999. She is a graduate of Binghamton University, where she majored in history. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: Arts