Horse therapy program opens doors to community

MURRELLS INLET, SC (WBTW) – The Myrtle Beach Therapeutic Riding and Vaulting Club opened its doors to community members today, including dozens of special needs children and their family.

The club held its Family Fun day at its facility in Murrells Inlet. Director Amy Albertson opened the non-profit therapy program approximately eight months ago. It is one of few equine therapy programs for special needs children in the Grand Strand.

Stacy McDowell and her 4-year-old son Jacob have been coming to the riding club for six months, but she says she saw Jacob’s autism improve after his first week of riding. “You can see a huge change now. His posture is so much better. His focus, he’s able to focus on stuff more. His hand eye coordination, his following one-step directions. It’s amazing what horseback riding can do.” She says Myrtle Beach Therapeutic Riding has made the difference for her family. “To see Jacob grow, it’s amazing. I just know he loves it, and I’ll do anything I can for him. And this is just an amazing place to be. Even me, I enjoy coming out here and seeing it, and seeing the smile on his face when he rides.”

Jennifer Orchard is the club’s Community Organizer. She also has a 4-year-old son with autism who rides at the facility. She says she hopes the program fills a void for the special needs community. “We have limited things for special needs children and adults. They don’t have as many opportunities as regular children and adults.”

In addition to running the riding club, Albertson also works as an in-home occupational therapy assistant. She says she sees a difference between the two forms of treatment. “Putting a child on a horse, their eyes light up, they smile they sit up taller, they breathe better, their nervous system calms down. It’s so soothing.”

She says the club is trying to grow in order to help more families, but needs more funding to do so. “We really are looking for scholarship for kids that cannot afford to do therapies like this out of pocket.It’s not covered by insurance.”

If you would like to volunteer at the Myrtle Beach Therapeutic Riding and Vaulting Club or donate to a scholarship for a child to attend the club, you can head to the facility’s Facebook page at