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Drake, Claireth Mendoza’s six-year-old son, writhes in his mother’s lap. She asks him to raise his head and the boy straightens up.

Drake suffers from cerebral palsy and until recently he struggled to do something as simple as watching his mother.

Mendoza credits Drake’s improvements to equine therapy, which uses guided horseback riding to influence posture, coordination, and muscle movement, which are impaired by cerebral palsy.

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“It has been slow, but the progress has been quite noticeable,” Mendoza said.

Drake is one of 103 patients who received treatment at the Center for Integral Therapy Center of Venezuela (CTIV) Foundation in Caracas, a non-profit organization that offers horse-assisted therapy to children and adolescents with disabilities.

A boy with cerebral palsy participates in equine therapy on November 19, 2003 in Coconut Creek, Florida. A non-profit program is making equine therapy available to children with cerebral palsy from low-income families in Venezuela.
(Tom Ervin / Getty Images)

The CTIV does not close its doors to low-income families, with 50-100% of the subsidized cost for some families in economic difficulty.

The assistance was a lifeline for 26-year-old Mendoza, unemployed in a country with one of the highest inflation rates in the world.

“We wanted to assist and provide service and rehabilitation, especially to children with limited resources,” said Patricia de Chumaceiro, founder and director of CTIV.

Chumaceiro’s inspiration to open CTIV in 2008 was personal: his youngest son, now 18, was born with cerebral palsy and personally benefited from equine therapy.

Located on a 13,000-square-foot estate on a hill in the eastern part of the Venezuelan capital, CTIV employs a team of 16 people, including social workers, psychologists, speech therapists and occupational therapists and physical therapists, who assist children in two 45-minute sessions. or three times a week.

Horseback riding lessons, an art gallery, and on-site facility rentals help pay subsidies to families like Drake’s.

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For Mendoza, the opportunity for free therapy for Drake was a relief at a time when he sometimes struggles to put food on the table.

“I’m super grateful (…) there has been a lot of progress,” she said.

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