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MANE: horses helping people with physical and emotional disabilities in Alabama

MANE: horses helping human health

Most forms of physical therapy take place indoors with machines, therapists and painful repetition.

But MANE, which stands for Montgomery Area Nontraditional Equestrians, takes a different approach, using horse therapy and the Pike Road outdoors to aid people with physical and emotional disabilities.

Riders go through three 10-week sessions, riding once a week for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on \ ability level.

“Physically is where everything starts, because a horse walks like a human, so it gives the rider a chance to move like a normal functioning body would,” program administrator Audrey Adamson said. “Once that starts working, then we get (to) muscles, and I can start working on balance. Establishing a good base allows us to start working on a lot of other things, because there’s so many skills when you are riding where you have to use different parts of the body.”

Each rider is assigned his or her own horse, and a bond forms that benefits clients emotionally.

“Horses are such empathetic creatures — they understand your feelings,” Adamson said. “With our at-risk youth, we work with making them partners with their horse. They come in and they have to groom and tack their horse, because they realize this is a responsibility before they can have fun. They can’t just come in ride the pony call it a day and then leave.”

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