EVERYDAY HEROES: Local equestrian offers therapeutic riding to veterans

·2 min read

Jun. 22—BRIGGS — Rita Bergman is a horse enthusiast who offers therapeutic riding therapy, or horse therapy, to veterans and members of the community.

Bergman didn't grow up in a family that owned horses, but at a young age, she knew she wanted to surround herself with the animals. For the past five years, she has worked with veterans to help them to heal from trauma.

She is a certified therapeutic riding instructor through PATH International. To become certified, she has had to undergo training through continuing education classes.

"You have to know horsemanship and regulations. It is an ongoing thing," said Bergman.

She takes clients to an indoor arena and an outdoor facility, as well as surrounding trails.

"Because of the heat right now and the flies, we spend most of the time at the indoor facility with the horses. We aren't able to get out on the trails," she said.

One of her veterans had never mounted a horse until recently. He is now preparing to bring in cattle with a riding group from the high valleys in Wyoming, where he will ride 26 miles by horse in a cattle loop.

Bergman works with Semper Fi & America's Fund, who sponsors therapy, and in the future, she hopes to expand her program.

"I'm just an individual working by myself here. I plan on creating something that will go on," said Bergman.

Therapeutic riding therapy, or equine-assisted therapy, has a long history in the field of therapy. Horses are known for their exceptional hearing and can sense a person's heartbeat from over 4 feet away.

"Horses are all about the heart. They can conceal and hear your heartbeat from far away. They mostly know what your heart is feeling, and they can pick up on that. They are very healing. I have had a horse just come up to a young girl who was in class and put its head right on her chest because that's what she needed. It is amazing," she said.

Bergman believes horses provide a path for healing.

"People will change themselves for a horse where they wouldn't for a human. It is a magical feeling," said Bergman.

To learn more about her therapy, visit Twin Pines Ranch on Facebook or go to twinspinesranch.com.