There's an organization in Erie County that provides therapeutic horse riding for people with special needs. Clients love to come to their sessions every week.  They really look forward to it this time of year.

The organization is called Hope on Horseback.  Everyone is celebrating Halloween...the special needs clients, the instructors, and yes, even the horses.  During the therapeutic riding sessions this week, the clients and their instructors are dressed in Halloween colors or in costume.  The riding arena is decorated with spooky stuff, including a skeleton horse.

"Halloween is a favorite week for the volunteers, the staff, and the riders.  We really make a big deal out of it,” says Betty Rositer, Hope on Horseback Executive Director.  

The clients of Hope on Horseback deal with either physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges.  It's fun for them to hop on a horse and ride. They also get other benefits from the ride. They work on their balance and concentration. They do stretching exercises on the horse.

"There's a lot of things going on in these classes that if you know what you're looking at you see the benefits of it,” says Betty.  

The fun is multiplied during Halloween season.  Instead of playing musical chairs, the clients play musical pumpkins… on horseback. .  Instead of bobbing for apples, they scoop for apples… from horseback.  Instead of smashing pumpkins, they knock gourds from a cone… while on horseback. They also improve their concentration skills by circling an unsuspecting guest with toilet paper and turning that guest into a mummy.  I was that unsuspecting guest.  It's Happy Halloween at Hope on Horseback.

"Our instructors are so wonderful at planning each lesson for something that is interesting to the clients at that time,” says Betty.  

Hope on Horseback was founded in 1981 under the name of TREC and was located near Sterrettania road in West County. The organization changed its name in 2017 and moved to a facility on Barton Road, near Waterford, two years ago.  Its fine work continues.  Especially during Halloween.

Hope on Horseback relies on fundraising for 50 percent of its budget.  Its annual Fall Fest fundraiser will be held Sunday, October 22, rain or shine, at Mound Grove Golf Course. It runs from noon to 6 p.m.  57 vendors will be in attendance either outdoors or under a big tent.