WISH LIST: $100: 2 (necessary!) helmets for riders; $500: tuition assistance for 1 rider for a 10-week session; $1000: care of 1 horse for 2 months
At Simple Changes Therapeutic Riding Center, lives are changed one step at a time. With access to over 800 acres of land, both an outdoor and indoor riding arena, miles of natural trails, and wide open pastures in Northern Virginia, Simple Changes gives year-round riding lessons to individuals with disabilities, including autism, genetic syndromes, and cerebral palsy – offering the exhilarating, therapeutic experience of bonding with horses and with one another. The sensation of independent movement buoys the rider's confidence and spirits; lessons that include following directions and completing tasks in sequence develop cognitive skills; and the act of riding greatly improves strength, balance, and posture. Riders learn in small groups, allowing for both personal attention and social engagement, and everyone receives a 50% scholarship. A North American Riding for the Handicapped Association premiere accredited center, Simple Changes also offers hippotherapy (physical therapy based around the unique movement of a horse) and serves wounded veterans through its aptly-named Horses for Heroes program. To so many riders, it's simple changes that make all the difference.