Dixie, a Norwegian Fjord Horse, can be found at the Ride Above Disability Therapeutic Riding Center (RAD) in Poway, providing a whole array of riding benefits for children and adults with disabilities. With Poway’s thriving equine community, it makes sense that RAD can be easily found in the rural area off of Garden Road, providing those with Down’s syndrome, ASD, learning or language disabilities and multiple sclerosis with lessons and equine therapy. Decades of research has proven that riding horses provides a whole host of neurological, cognitive, and physical conditioning, especially for those who require a non-weight-bearing activity.
20-year-old Dixie is often a favorite rider and staff choice, known for her sweet disposition, deep well of patience, and easy-moving gaits. However, with age comes extra care to keep her body in top condition for her riders. “Dixie provides about 20, 30-minute rides per week,” says Allie Sarnataro, Co-Foundation, Executive Director, and Program Director. “While lessons are mostly walking and trotting exercises, and such a regular routine keeps Dixie’s joints and muscles healthy, Dixie requires extra medications and treatments to help keep her in top shape.” This year, the Rancho Bernardo Sunrise Rotary Club will sponsor Dixie’s specialized health needs with a $4,000 grant. “Many of the club members either have owned horses or been around them in the past, so there is an understanding of how fulfilling the riding experience can be. But more than the feeling of having greater mobility atop a horse, something the kids talk for days before and after a lesson, there is something innately joyful about being with the volunteers and staff in a safe and supportive environment,” said Marty Greenwald, the Club’s current president.