With the close of one year and the beginning of another, now is a great opportunity to reflect on past successes and plan for the future.
The last 12 months have certainly been a busy and productive time for the Sarasota Manatee Association of Riding Therapy (SMART). Their greatest accomplishment of the year was earning a prestigious industry designation that is reserved for only the best equine therapy centers in the world. In April, SMART was named a Premier Accredited Center by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. The rigorous accreditation process is a peer review system that includes 112 standards, ranging from safety protocols and animal welfare to facility management and administrative practices.
Over the past year, SMART has seen increased participation in many of its community outreach programs, including Horse Power for Veterans, Horse Sense Literacy, Adventure in Learning, and their Hope Reins! program for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. SMART has also expanded its partnerships with other not-for-profit groups, including Just for Girls Academy, Beyond the Spectrum, UCP of Sarasota and many area schools.
In keeping with its core mission, SMART provided services for more than 400 local children and adults in 2013. Their 17 therapy horses are healthy and happily engaged in their work, and their dedicated team of volunteers continues to support the organization and spread the word about its unique benefits.
SMART always welcomes new donors and volunteers. Visit their website at www.smartriders.org to view their wish list, adopt a therapy horse or learn more about the many types of volunteer opportunities available. For more information, call 941-322-2000.
Established in 1987, the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) is a non-profit organization that provides horseback riding, carriage driving and equine-assisted activities for individuals with disabilities. Located in eastern Manatee County, SMART is an all-volunteer group that serves up to 400 families per year, including people with a variety of challenges such as autism, attention deficit disorder, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome, as well as at-risk youth, amputees, and those with terminal illness, emotional or mental health conditions, and hearing, speech or vision impairments. Among the activities offered are summer and day camps, competitions (Special Olympics and Paralymics), driving, grooming and tacking, therapeutic riding, and veterans’ programs. Volunteers over age 14 are welcome to join the organization at any time after completing an orientation and training program.
For more information, call 941-322-2000 or visit online at www.smartriders.org.