GOFFSTOWN, NH – Against the backdrop of a newly renovated space, friends and supporters of UpReach Therapeutic Riding Center frequently used words like “family” when discussing the organization’s new area.
“This was truly the result of people really coming together for a common cause,” said Karen Kersting, UpReach’s Executive Director. “All of the materials and labor was donated.”
UpReach recently hosted a special event with donors, supporters, and friends to formally open the new room. Large and multi-functional, the new area has dividers so that multiple meetings can be held at once, improved restrooms and a kitchen area among other upgrades. Kersting said the new space will enable UpReach to serve more clients as well as provide opportunities for businesses to hold employee meetings and offsites.
Founded nearly 30 years ago and located on land donated by Edie and Nackey Loeb (the late Matriarch of the NH Union Leader), UpReach provides a host of innovative programs aimed at combining literal horsepower with the needs of individuals who have physical, psychological, and emotional challenges. For some clients, riding a horse helps build core strength and confidence, for others caring for horses by grooming and feeding them reduces stress and has emotional benefits. Kersting calls the benefits of human-horse interactions “transformational. Amazing things happen each day at UpReach.”
Back to the new space.
Leadership from Fulcrum Associates, an Amherst-based construction company, had learned about UpReach from a TV broadcast earlier this year and reached out to Kersting and her team regarding facility needs. “They asked us to dream and to dream big,” she recalls. “The project started in June and completed earlier this fall.” Beyond providing materials, labor, and project management, Daryl Luter, Fulcrum’s president, and his team recruited scores of contractors from across the state to join the team. Luter remarked to the crowd of about 70 that the process “came together in a fantastic way. Everybody had a hand in putting this together. Our family became part of your family,” he said to Kersting. “Your values very much align with ours.” Luter noted that over 20 companies were part of the project.
Other special guests included clients from the Dismas Home, a state-licensed Residential Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Treatment and Re-entry Program for previously incarcerated women. Several residents of home recently completed a program a program at UpReach and shared their experiences-including riding a horse for the first time- with the gathering. “By trusting the horse, I learned to trust myself,” shared one resident. “This experience has taught me so much.”
Any visitor to UpReach will tell you the real stars of the show are the horses. The current equine team consists of 16 horses in all, including four minis (miniature horses).
Allison McCully is a PATH International Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor and oversees the unmounted program at UpReach. She explained the minis are not meant to be ridden and are utilized at nursing homes, hospitals, and schools and interact with seniors, patients and students. “Many youths in particular are drawn to the minis,” McCully said. “In some instances, they make a real connection.”
This columnist has visited UpReach numerous times, and the experience is always a good one. On this occasion, I got to “meet” Darcy, a sturdy mini who liked having his head petted. And the center is not that far away. “Some people think we located at the end of the earth,” Kersting jokes. “We’re not far away and welcome people to come see what we’re all about.”
To that point, UpReach is welcoming the community to attend a free open house, Saturday, November 6th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Meet Darcy and friends, learn about the programs, and see some horsepower up close. UpReach is located at 153 Paige Hill Road in Goffstown- about 10 minutes from Elm Street.
To learn more, visit https://www.upreachtec.org/