Horse therapy brings new freedom to those with disabilities

MALVERN, Pa. -- These horses are helping those with intellectual or physical disabilities gallop with a new sense of freedom.

The equestrian center at Thorncroft hosts a beautiful farm with dozens of gentle horses.

It started 50 years ago with a single rider and now invites about 350 students weekly.

Volunteers have been coming back for decades. Dr. Brett Dolente first learned how to ride when she was four years old. It inspired her to become a veterinarian and has been volunteering at Thorncroft more than 40 years.

Thorncroft was selected to be one of eleven "Centers of Excellence" across the country. It will allow athletes to be recruited for paralympic-level dressage, a skillful horseback riding sport. Para-Equestrian Coach and dressage champion Michel Assouline will be lending his talents as head coach this fall during a clinic at Thorncroft.

The Center of Excellence at Thorncroft is being developed with assistance from Hope Hand, the President of the United States Para-Equestrian Association. A two-time paralympian herself, she wants to give athletes with disabilities the chance to experience a whole new world through the sport.

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