Background Image

News & Events


Clarkson Master Of Physical Therapy Students Team Up With Local Ranch To Offer Horseback Riding Program For Children With Special Needs

[A photograph for newspaper use is available at]

Students in Clarkson University’s Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree program are working with Jonesey’s Riverside Ranch in Ogdensburg to give children with special needs the opportunity to enjoy a rewarding and therapeutic horseback ride. Tammy Aldous, Staci Miller, Heather Flannigan and Trent Worden

The program will run for six weeks during June and July. It is free and open to children between the ages of 4-18, who have been diagnosed with mild physical, behavioral or cognitive impairments. For safety reasons, participants must be under five feet tall and weigh less than 100 pounds.

“Due to the number of children who are faced with emotional, behavioral and self-confidence problems, there is always a need for improved therapeutic approaches that are fun, motivating and challenging,” said Staci Miller, an MPT student and one of the organizers of the program.  “Horseback riding has been shown to be an empowering activity that has positive emotional and physical benefits for children with special needs.”

The riding program will be held at Jonesey’s River Ranch located on Route 37. The participants will ride Lad, a mature six-year-old registered American quarter horse that is well mannered and accustomed to children. A horse specialist will be on site during all riding sessions. Trained personnel will accompany the children while they are riding, with one individual leading the horse and two side walkers guarding the child. Sessions are held twice a week and rides will last approximately 15 minutes.

The program will also give the Clarkson students an opportunity to conduct a research study looking at the potential psychosocial benefits of participating in a horseback riding program for children with special needs. Participation in the research portion of the program is optional.

 “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to be involved in original research that will directly benefit members of our community,” said Leslie Russek, professor of physical therapy and the project’s faculty adviser.

To be eligible for the program, children must be able to stand and pivot with a minimum assist of one person, must have trunk and neck control, be able to maintain an erect sitting position, and have the cognitive ability to understand and follow basic instructions.

Participants will also need to be cleared by their physician before being accepted into the program. For more information about the program or to register, please contact Staci Miller at Clarkson University at 315-268-0335 or

PHOTO CAPTION: Clarkson University Master of Physical Therapy students (left to right) Tammy Aldous, Staci Miller, Heather Flannigan and Trent Worden are preparing to offer a horseback riding program for children with special needs. The rides will take place at Jonesey’s River Ranch on Route 37 in Ogdensburg in June and July.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

Calendar View the full calendar >>

Full Calendar RSS Feed