A nonprofit organization that offers physical therapy for disabled people through horse riding marks its 15th anniversary meeting this weekend.
Pine Island-based Rideability was founded by the mother of a disabled daughter, her neighbor, and her daughter's pediatric physical therapist.
The organization has a family focus, so lessons can include both students and their parents, said Executive Director Jeanie Michelizzi.
"After you have an incident where the student succeeds and the parent was skeptical, when they leave the barn and go home, they now have a new family dynamic," Michelizzi said. "And it happened here, and they took it home. And that's really what family focus is about."
Michelizzi says horseback riding can help disabled students develop muscle stability and balance. She says Rideability serves nearly 200 students annually.
"That's a wonderful physical thing," Michelizzi said. "You can take someone out of a wheelchair, set him on the horse, and walk away.
"The horse is doing the walking. They're doing all the good that they can get from it."
Michelizzi says Rideability encourages families to attend classes together. The organization is funded by donors including United Way and the American Legion.