The Ridewell Program (“Ridewell”) is a program that incorporates Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) for DC-area soldiers and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). Therapies based on the EAAT principles are particularly beneficial for brain-injured soldiers and vets, who face cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities associated with TBI and PTSD. Participants make gains in balance, strength, coordination, memory, and attention span. Additionally, the unique relationship formed with the horse provides them with increased confidence, patience, and self-control.
Ridewell participants are active duty soldiers and veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, drawn from area trauma rehabilitation centers. Classes are held at the Rock Creek Park Horse Center (RCPHC), a concession run by Guest Services, in collaboration with the National Park Service and the National Park Police Mounted Horse Patrol. RCPHC brought therapeutic riding to the nation’s attention when President Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, was shot and turned to the Center to aid in his recovery.
Building on the success of similar programs, Rock Creek Riders launched the Ridewell Program in 2008 with a unique focus on the physical and emotional needs of brain-injured soldiers and vets. Officers with the National Park Police Mounted Horse Patrol, several of whom have been in the military themselves, have volunteered as side walkers and horse leaders.
Participants in the Ridewell Program have made tremendous strides. Their doctors and families have noted improvements in walking and balance, as well pride and joy in their accomplishments.
We witness their extraordinary drive and inner strength, and are honored to be making a difference in their lives.