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The thoughtful integration of newly purchased land with an existing campus expands opportunities for ecological restoration, new program elements, and safe circulation at a therapeutic horse riding center.

Pony Power Therapies, Mahwah, NJ

For over 15 years, Pony Power Therapies horse farm has provided special-needs individuals the opportunity to ride and care for horses on their four-acre campus. After acquiring an adjacent three acres, Pony Power contracted with RDG to create a cohesive Comprehensive Site Plan. The goals were to unify the campus, accommodate innovative programming, provide a safe experience for participants, care for resident animals, and restore ecological function to the site.

RDG facilitated a six-month process that included site analysis of land cover, slopes, drainage, vegetation, access, circulation, and parking. These analyses, coupled with input from staff, board members, parents, and volunteers, set the course for design recommendations.

The final design successfully ties the two properties together. Arrival points, circulation, and parking are clearly delineated, and safe walking paths connect key elements in the landscape. A new sensory trail, a feature vital to the horse farm’s therapeutic programming, takes advantage of varied terrain and mature tree canopy. The reconfiguration of the site allows for additional paddocks to be sited, which should relieve future hoof pressure and prevent excessive soil compaction. Several strategies to slow and sink stormwater are included. Rain gardens throughout the center of the site offer beauty, function, and educational opportunities, while permeable parking areas are further buffered by bio-retention basins and vegetated swales. The steep, eroded slopes of former horse farm paddocks are stabilized through a bio-engineered system of coir logs with native grasses and shrubs.

The Site Plan process brought the project through design development, and included renderings to aid in fundraising efforts. RDG has continued to work on this project, developing construction drawings, providing construction oversight, and designing offshoot projects.


Key Features

  • Sensory riding trails
  • Rotational paddocks
  • Infiltration basins, vegetated swales, & rain gardens
  • Outdoor classroom
  • Educational gardens

Services Provided

  • Visioning and goal setting
  • Site analysis
  • Stakeholder meetings
  • Project phasing
  • Landscape management guidelines

Since 2000, we have provided horse-assisted activities to children and adults with a broad spectrum of developmental and physical disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, visual impairments and traumatic brain injury.

We also serve individuals, families and groups facing a range of life challenges, such as those dealing with trauma and loss, substance abuse and recovery, eating disorders, anxiety and depression, relationship and social issues, parenting challenges and more. 


From the Pony Power website

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