Two Collin County foundations have invested in a new horse simulator program for ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship in McKinney, Texas helping the non-profit organization bring the benefits of equine therapy to even more riders with disabilities. The Andrea-Mennen Family Foundation and the Dallas Stars Foundation contributed $20,000 and $15,000, respectively, towards the purchase of a life-sized horse simulator, which can be used by riders who have allergies, physical challenges, or sensitivity to weather that prevents them from riding a live horse in the outdoor arena. The horse simulator will open up opportunities for these riders to experience the same benefits of equine therapy that other riders are experiencing in the arena. ManeGait is the first therapeutic riding center in North Texas to employ this technology.

“There are enormous physical and social-emotional benefits to riding a horse, and having a simulator makes it possible to bring those rewards to even more children and adults,” said Tricia Nelson, executive director of ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship. “Thanks to the generosity of The Andrea-Mennen Family Foundation and Dallas Stars Foundation, we are increasing the number of riding lessons we can provide and eliminating barriers to therapy that some of our riders face.”

ManeGait’s stable of 20 therapy horses will always be the lifeblood of the therapeutic riding lessons. However, the horse simulator will be a much needed addition. It will be housed in a controlled environment where the individual needs of a rider can be met. The simulator will be used to help children acclimate to riding, to improve riding technique and assist with challenges like heat or cold sensitivity, allergies and immune deficiencies.

While one of ManeGait’s therapy horses can safely provide up to 15 hours of lessons weekly, there is no limit on the hours a horse simulator can be put to work. In addition, when weather prevents use of ManeGait’s outdoor arena, the horse simulator can supplement in the covered area so continuity in therapy is maintained.

ManeGait’s life-sized horse simulator includes an interactive computer that allows riders to replicate riding a live horse by responding to the rider's physical commands and simulating the rhythmic motion of walking, trotting and cantering. This allows the riders to ride to a real time screen and enjoy a more engaging and realist riding experience.  

The two private foundations supporting the program both have a demonstrated commitment to advancing the well-being of North Texas children. The Andrea-Mennen Family Foundation is committed to enhance the quality of life and build a positive foundation for children and young adults so they can meet and overcome life’s mental and physical challenges. The Dallas Stars Foundation, the official charity of the Dallas Stars’ management and players, provides support to children of the community so they can lead quality lives and develop into contributing members of society.

About ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship
ManeGait is a McKinney, Texas-based nonprofit organization that specializes in therapeutic horsemanship to help children and adults with disabilities to move beyond their boundaries through the healing power of the horse and the dedication of a professional, caring community. Riders with physical, cognitive, developmental, sensory and/or learning disabilities from Collin, Dallas, Denton, Grayson and Rockwall counties participate in the program located on 14 acres in McKinney. Sessions build horsemanship skills, while also improving the rider’s physical, cognitive, emotional and/or social skills. For more information, call (469) 742-9611 or visit www.manegait.org. Or, follow the organization on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manegait or Twitter @ManeGait.