Mercer County Therapeutic Riders Excel at Horse Show

Tina Provost takes first place representing the Mercer County Equestrian Center alongside volunteer Staci Bolton (left) and employee Elizabeth Ruck (right). Photo credit: Heather O'Connell Photography

Students of the Mercer County Equestrian Center’s Therapeutic Riding Program participated at the Special Olympics of New Jersey/HRH of New Jersey Horse Show on October 21. The center’s Therapeutic Riding Program Team included Victoria Hamm, Erik Nolte, Delaney O’Connell, Nicole Patnick and Tina Provost.

Between the five riders competing in 10 classes, 20 ribbons and medals were won: 10 first places, five second places, three third places, one fourth place and one fifth place. Tina Provost, attending her first horse show and Special Olympics event, placed first four times in both of her classes. Tina was also the first resident of Project Freedom to participate on the MCEC Team. Victoria Hamm also placed first four times; Erik Nolte earned a first place, two second places and a fourth place; Delaney O’Connell earned a first place, two second places and a third place; and Nicole Patnick earned a second place, two third places and a fifth place.

“We’re very proud of the students in the Therapeutic Riding Program and their many accomplishments,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “Mercer County is delighted to be able to offer this worthwhile program.”

Children and adults with special needs from around the state competed in the annual Special Olympics of New Jersey/HRH of New Jersey Horse Show, and this was Mercer County Equestrian Center’s eighth year participating since the inception of its adaptive riding program. Therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs. Therapeutic riding provides benefits in the areas of health, education, sport, and recreation and leisure. Riding classes are taught by an instructor who has a strong equine background, as well as an understanding of various disabilities, and can structure the riding lesson according to the student’s needs and goals.

The Mercer County Equestrian Center is owned by the County of Mercer and operated by the Mercer County Park Commission. For more information about programs offered at the Equestrian Center and additional facilities of the Park Commission, visit

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