Kids Korral Inc. offers different kind of therapy.
Horse farms are a regular sight for those driving the pine-laden roads of Shamong Township. One particular farm on Stokes Road should stand out, though, not for how it looks but for the work that is happening on the inside.
Jennifer Hill moved to Shamong with her husband Dan 16 years ago. They purchased the house from someone whose daughter had special needs but loved and wanted to learn how to ride horses. Jennifer also had a passion for horses, and from there, the idea for Kids Korral Inc. was born.
“Kids Korral exists for the purpose of offering children with special needs the opportunity to participate in horse-assisted activities and obtain the benefits derived through therapeutic horsemanship while experiencing the freedom, joy and fun of riding,” Jennifer said. “When I met her, it pushed me to learn how to teach kids, and that’s when I found out about NAHRA and the certifications they offer.”
NAHRA is the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association that was formed in 1969. It has since become the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. PATH is a federally registered nonprofit that promotes equine-assisted activities and therapies for individuals with special needs. The certification program took two years for Hill to complete.
Hill, who also substitutes at Indian Mills Middle School, has watched Kids Korral Inc. grow from one lesson with one horse to 15 lessons with three different horses each week. She knows the program cannot accommodate many more as it is currently constructed.
“Obviously, our space and number of horses are limited, but we do the best we can with what we have. It’s been great, we’ve been rocking and rolling now for nine years,” Hill said.
Participants receive 70–75 minute private lessons once a week as well as a group ride on Saturdays. Students receive a variety of training throughout each session.
“We cover basic riding skills as well as the equipment and the horses themselves. It’s very recreational. We incorporate games and activities that allow them to build social and emotional skills,” Hill said. “It also is very physical. Riding alone strengthens their abdominal and core muscles.”
The organization does not have the budget for advertising or a staff so it relies solely on word of mouth and referrals for new participants as well as volunteers to assist with the rides. Kids who began in the program are often a part of it for several years.
“One of our girls has been with us since we started nine years ago. She works with us as a volunteer. That’s something we’ve had a few people do as well as eventually they ‘graduate’ and become volunteers within the program. It’s amazing to watch and really special for them to help other kids,” Hill said. “The best thing we can do is help them reach a point of independence.”
Kids Korral is eligible for federal and state grants but it also relies on fundraisers throughout the year.
“We rely on volunteers as our staff and different events to raise money. The word of mouth and referrals we’ve gotten have been great. We’re happy to accommodate as many as we can,” Hill said.
For more information on Kids Korral Inc. visit www.hrhofnj.org and click “Member Centers South Jersey.”