The Retreat at Beckleysville is a therapeutic riding program for people with disabilities. Mary Shunk, who operates the program, says that she has riders from the age of 4 all the way up to 65.
“I’ve been teaching therapeutic riding for 30 years. I started with the 4-H program in Westminster, which is wonderful but it stopped in the summer,” Shunk explained. “Kids who wanted to ride in the summer would ride at my house.”
Shunk has riders who come from as far as Silver Spring and some riders come who can’t even sit on their horses independently. “The gait of the horse provides input to the body that can’t be duplicated in a therapist’s office,” Shunk says.
Riders from The Retreat at Beckleysville participate in the Special Olympics in Prince Georges County and also in the Handicapped Rider’s Event at the Devon Horse Show.
Shunk operates the retreat with a staff of dedicated volunteers and said that another part of their mission is to provide a haven for retired horses.