Boy Scout’s project restores riding trails

Staff Writer

A Boy Scout from Troop 258 in Howell worked with family members and friends for nearly two months to repair sensory trails at Riding High Farm, Upper Freehold Township, that were damaged by superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Andrew Struz, 14, is pursuing the rank of Eagle Scout.

Riding High Farm offers programs for individuals who have special needs. Sensory trails are used during therapy sessions that involve horse riding.

Andrew, who has attended camps and worked at the facility with his mother, Riding High Farm program director Robyn Struz, said he recognized the need for repairs on the sensory trails.

“The trails had not been used in years, so we tried to make them look a little better,” he said.

Since its creation in 1979 as a nonprofit special needs horseback riding program, Riding High Farm has been nationally recognized by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA).

“We are held to the highest national standards with what we do,” Robyn Struz said.

That being said, she acknowledged that the sensory trails had become “not very horse friendly” in the three years since Sandy wove a path of destruction across New Jersey.

To make the former riding areas more suitable for use, Andrew and a crew of workers created trails that are wide enough for horses, riders and any additional handlers who may be needed during a therapy session. The group built a bridge over a small waterway to make traversing the trail easier.

Although the farm’s personnel primarily works with children and adults who have special needs, from autism to amputees, Robyn Struz said the organization also works with military veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project.

“There have been quite a few returning soldiers [to visit the farm] with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other traumas,” she said.

The link to the military is what Andrew said got him interested in focusing his Eagle Scout project on the farm.

“I have a lot of family members in the military and it helps me a lot to know I am helping the Wounded Warriors program,” the young man said.

Andrew said he hopes to have his project at Riding High Farm reviewed by the Boy Scouts in the near future and to earn his Eagle Scout rank by February.