‘Rein-ing’ in donations: Polo tournament in Easton raises money for equine therapy programs

  • Lehigh Valley Polo Tournament will take place on Sunday, Sept. 17 at Braden Airpark
  • The event is a benefit for Equi-librium – Healing Through Horses
  • The nonprofit, based in Nazareth, provides equine therapy services for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities.

EASTON, Pa. — Who will be this year’s “rein-ing” champ?
The Lehigh Valley’s “Sport of Kings” Polo tournament will take place at Braden Airpark in Forks Township on Sunday, Sept. 17.

The annual shindig is a benefit for Equi-librium – Healing Through Horses, a nonprofit that provides services for individuals with physical, cognitive and behavioral disabilities.

Activities planned include a heated match between teams of celebrated polo players and divot stomping — an old tradition where all of the spectators are invited to stomp up and down on the field and replace the grass torn up by the horses’ hooves during the match.

In between, games will be available on the lawn, as will food and drinks at vendor tents. Alternatively, sprawl out with a blanket, picnic-style, and watch the horses in action.

And don’t forget to dress in style: Think fancy hats, collared shirts, cute sundresses, tweed jackets and khaki shorts.

A benefit for equine therapy

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Equi-librium – Healing Through Horses offers equine therapy to individuals with disabilities and behavioral issues.

The polo-themed soiree raises money for year-round programs at Equi-librium’s stables located at 524 Fehr Road in Nazareth.

At the facility, trainers offer horse-related programs to local children, youth and adults with physical, developmental and emotional challenges.

The nonprofit was founded in 2001 and spun off from the Monroe County Riding for the Handicapped and later, the Easter Seals RISE (Riding Instruction for Special Equestrians).

According to Equi-librium’s website, they currently serve hundreds of riders in the region each year.

Its equine-assisted trainers are members of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH).

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An equine-therapy horse and trainer work with individuals during a therapy session at Equi-librium – Healing Through Horses in Nazareth. The nonprofit will host a polo match and benefit on Sunday.

Its therapy classes incorporate hippotherapy, a type of treatment that uses the movement and different gaits of horses to address disabilities.

These disabilities include autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and visual, hearing and language impairments.

In a review of 16 studies reported by the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, equine therapy had a “significant positive impact” in all groups of patients studied.

“Horses have this ability to connect not only with each other but with humans in ways that science can’t really put into words,” said Christina Cox, program director at Equi-librium, told LehighValleyNews.com in 2022. “So you actually have to feel it to experience it.”

Cox says she loves her job, “because I get to play with horses every day,” she said with a laugh. “But I [also] get to share what I know about horses and how amazing they are, what they can do for humans, and I get to share that with those in need.”

In the event an individual cannot ride a horse, trainers offer carriage driving during therapy sessions.

Tickets to the polo tournament start at $35 or $175 for VIPs (includes access to a VIP tent and refreshments).

To learn more about Equi-librium and ways to help, click here.

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