PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Central Illinois Riding Therapy (CIRT) in East Peoria provides therapy and builds confidence in those with disabilities, but even better, it’s done on horses.

“The nice thing about horses is they’re limitless,” said CIRT Program Director, Jenna Walker.

Instructors at Central Illinois Riding Therapy at the Fondulac Park work with 60 riders each week to help harness their own confidence, like Jenae Sutton.

“I love to ride,” said Sutton.

At the farm, they work on breathing exercises, stretches, riding, communication, and the responsibilities that come with caring for a horse.

“I like to get on them because then I can pet them,” said the 6-year-old rider, Andrea Frietsch.

Walker said connecting with a horse can also help with personality development.

“For someone who is very quiet and shy, we will actually put them on a horse that is very bubbly and can’t stand still so that they will feed off of each other and their energies combine,” said Walker.

Each session is personalized to the needs of each rider.

“I normally have the same lesson plan for the week, but I individualize it for each student. For Jenae here, she likes some of those stretches, so we work a little more with flexibility and mobility,” said Walker.

Walker said she’s honored to ride along with the students and spur inspiration while developing new skills.

“I love seeing the progress of the students and seeing them overcome things that we even take for granted,” said Walker.

Central Illinois Riding Therapy relies heavily on volunteers, Walker said they are always looking for more help, especially with the warmer months ahead.

For more information on how you can help, visit their website or contact them at (309) 699- 3710.