Naples Therapeutic Riding Center (NTRC) serves nearly 800 people per year. The waiting list consistently hovers at around 80 riders, who wait as long as a year to get into the equine therapy programs. Last year, a 2-acre lot to the south of the main campus went for sale, and the board quickly voted to purchase the land to expand the center over the next few years. “We’re hoping to bring more riders on campus; we’ll need more horses, more volunteers and more staff,” NTRC’s vice president of the board of directors Caroline Ridgway says. Though the expansion is in its early phases, Ridgway says they hope to clear their waitlist once construction is complete. With the new lot and a house that came with it, the board plans to add a new paddock and a home base for staff to stay on property for 24/7 care.
“It’s an exciting time for NTRC, thinking about our future,” Ridgway says, adding that the next step is to recruit more volunteers to help with expanding programs, which range from The Naples Players’ improv-based courses to the mental health-focused Operations Strides for military families to occupational therapy sessions with the animals. “Some people don’t think about what NTRC can do for them, but once they come, we can see how engaged they are with the horses and how they start to benefit from that interaction,” Ridgway says.