NYer of the Week: Beth McReynolds Helps Build Self-Esteem Through Horse Riding Therapy

In this concrete jungle, you'll find our New Yorker of the Week use horsepower to strengthen the physical, social and emotional skills of riders across the city. NY1’s John Schiumo has the story.

At the Gallop NYC program, there are many uplifting moments.

Sitting tall with pride, children with special needs experience the thrill of horseback riding.

“These riders learn that they have the ability to do things that they didn’t know that they could do. For a lot of these people, they’ve been used to being told what they can’t do,” said Beth McReynolds, Site Coordination Manager for Gallop NYC.

McReynolds introduces them to new possibilities with a little horsepower at Gallop NYC, a nonprofit that teaches therapeutic riding to children and adults with mental or physical disabilities.

“Within a few weeks or months of doing these classes, they’re big, they're bold, they’ve got big personalities, because they’ve gained so much self-esteem,” she said.

By saddling up, kids get a leg up on their personal skills.

The program improves their focus, balance, coordination and muscle strength.

“It was funner than I thought,” said five-year-old student Javier Zuniga.

“It was fun, trotting on the horse,” said eight-year-old student Philip Dunn.

It also gives them the confidence they can ride with for life.

“I felt shy in the morning, when I wasn’t at horse camp.  But now I’m not. I got used to everything right away,” Zuniga said.

“Don’t think you’re going to fall off,” said Shane Cassaro, a seven-year-old student.

“They are elevated above other people, which in itself gives such a sense of power I think and such a sense of position that you really can rise to a challenge,” said Sarah-Jane Casey, Instructor Manager at Gallop NYC.

You can find Gallop NYC at a few equestrian sites in the city.

Since Beth took over the reins in 2010, she’s inspired hundreds of students and volunteers.

“She’s everywhere doing everything that needs to get done,” said program volunteer Anna Murrin.

"She’s always very helpful and she’s so kind and she’s always patient. She’s a joy to work with," said Lillian Jimenez, another volunteer.

“I have found something that has given more to me than I can possibly tell you as far as the fulfillment that it has brought me,” McReynolds said.

And so, for motivating others to gallop to new heights, Beth McReynolds is our New Yorker of the Week.

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