San Diego

Your Corner: ‘Horse Power' Inspires Confidence in San Diegans With Special Needs

An equestrian program spearheaded by a San Diego group is helping local students with developmental challenges gain confidence

On a 20-acre construction site in north San Marcos, there is a lot of heavy machinery building a very special place, right alongside a few horses building some very special bonds.

“There’s an energy about them that just balances you out,” said Natalie Hill, referring to the horses who call this place home.

Hill is a horse trainer for TERI, a group that helps kids and adults with special needs. One of the organization’s programs is equestrian. Students come to ride the horses about once a week. Some of them have never been on a horse.

“They learn how to sit in the saddle, and how to hold the reins, and what to do to steer and stop their horse,” Hill explained.

Hill said horses naturally stimulate a human’s walking movement, which is just the start of the physical benefits of this program.

“It teaches muscle strengthening. It helps develop motor planning,” said Hill.

And, it goes well beyond the physical.

“I see a much more confident individual,” said Hill. “Usually, they’re laughing and smiling at the end and just feeling very proud of themselves and what they’ve accomplished.”

The horses are just the first to call that place in San Marcos home.

Once construction is done, TERI will move all of its programs to that 20-acre property; this includes culinary, performing arts, and gardening, just to name a few.

For now, surrounded by all that heavy construction equipment is a different kind of horsepower.

“When you’re in the moment, working with a horse, everything else just fades away, and it’s just very calming and relaxing,” Hill added.

To learn more about TERI, click here.

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