Marion Therapeutic Riding Association (MTRA) was founded in 1983 at Peg Wallace’s farm in Ocala, Florida. The program soon became a member of the North America Riding for the Handicapped Association (now known as PATH: Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) and, in 2002, became a PATH International Premier Accredited Center. During its formative years, MTRA was operated by several dedicated, unpaid individuals using horseback riding to help physically and mentally challenged people build self-esteem and independence. MTRA’s growing success with its clients caught the attention of the Hillcrest School for the Exceptional Student and in 1985, Hillcrest and MTRA formed a strategic alliance to add therapeutic riding to the school’s curriculum. It was also that year that MTRA became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit. A modest pole barn was constructed on the school’s property was devoted to the program.
Since 1985, MTRA has provided these life-changing services to the children of the Hillcrest School at no charge to the Marion County School System. While the school allows us to use their facility and small acreage and pays the utilities, MTRA is responsible for all facility maintenance, providing the PATH certified instructors, volunteers, equipment, insurance and of course the very special horses that are used in this program, as well as their feed, veterinary and farrier services plus the daily care of these horses. This is quite a financial burden as MTRA’s current program income at the Greenway facility only provides about 30% of the funds necessary to provide the services, staff and maintain that facility alone. Our annual costs to provide the same care to the Hillcrest students exceeds $50,000 per year.
To make a donation to support our program at Hillcrest, please visit our Donations page for more information. To see the results of our efforts at Hillcrest first hand, take a moment to watch the video below….