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Landscaping for Handicap Equestrian Activities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1992 makes access to public facilities a civil right for all Americans. It mandates that "no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any public place by any person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation." You can make your equestrian facility more welcome to those with disabilities. For equestrian sites that cater to the public, the requirements of ADA should be taken into account. Many disabled people are interested in riding horses.

The North American Riding for Handicapped Association (NARHA) was founded in 1969 to promote and support therapeutic riding in the U.S. and Canada. At some 500 NARHA riding centers, more than 26,000 individuals with disabilities find a sense of independence through horseback riding.

These centers range from small, one-person programs to large operations with several instructors and therapists. In addition to therapeutic riding, a center may offer any number of equine activities such as driving, vaulting, trail riding, competition or stable management. NARHA assists riding centers in several ways for the benefit of individuals with disabilities. Through a wide variety of educational resources, NARHA helps individuals start and maintain successful therapeutic riding programs. NARHA's standards for riding centers provide a basis for maintaining a safe therapeutic riding environment. NARHA also provides guidelines for selecting riders who are suitable and appropriate for therapeutic riding activities.

Other educational resources include regional workshops, annual conferences, and regional/state networks. NARHA is the accrediting organization for Easter Seals' camps with equine activities. Other organizations participating in NARHA riding programs include the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Special Olympics, Spina Bifida Association and United Cerebral Palsy. Landscape Architects can help in assuring that equestrian facilities are handicap friendly. They are licensed by the State in which they practice and are usually members of the American Society of Landscape Architects, ASLA.

Landscape architecture encompasses the analysis, planning, design, management, and stewardship of the natural and built environments. ASLA full members have graduated from an accredited landscape architecture program, have 7 years of education and/or professional experience and are state licensed. In Michigan, as well as all other States, a three (3) day LARE examination administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards is required to be passed for State licensure. Landscape designers do not have these professional credentials. Many state and local governments require designs to be stamped with a state registered Landscape Architect's seal. As a registered landscape architect in the State of Michigan and principle architect with Sexton Ennett Design, LC, a landscape architectural firm in southeast Michigan, I am particularly aware of designing equestrian facilities to be more welcome to those with disabilities.

See: http://www.sexton-ennett.com I am also a breeder of champion Oldenburg warm blood sport horses and am particularly sensitive to making equestrian facilities barrier free.

See: http://www.markimfarms.com Everyone should be able to enjoy the independence and joy of horse back riding. ### .

By: Kimberley Ennett MLA, ASLA

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