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About NWTRC

Mission

The NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center, a nonprofit PATH Intl. riding program, provides equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) to people of all ages with a wide range of disabilities. The NWTRC is dedicated to enriching the physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being of our riders and their families in an environment which is safe, nurturing, challenging and fun.

The NWTRC

The NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center (NWTRC) is a non-profit PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) center, located in Whatcom County, in Western Washington.

The center follows stringent PATH Intl. guidelines regarding its personnel, facilities, animals and paperwork. There is strict adherence to the highest national standards of safety of its riders.

Association with PATH Intl. bestows program legitimacy and credibility to the NWTRC. A PATH Intl. server provides discounted specialized insurance, as well as sets guidelines for the Center’s program. It does not, however, provide financial assistance. In fact, NWTRC pays over $1,000 to PATH Intl. to maintain its association.

The NWTRC was established in 1993 as a 501(c) (3) to provide equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) activities for mentally, physically and emotionally challenged children and adults in Whatcom County.

The NWTRC currently has the capacity to serve up to 50 riders per week. Participants include individuals with autism, spectrum disorders, Down Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, brain injuries, and learning/behavior disabilities. Riders have ranged in age from 2 to 74.

Each NWTRC participant receives an individually tailored lesson plan that gears their riding session toward achieving a specific therapeutic goal. Each session involves a certified riding instructor. For each individual, up to four volunteers may be needed to serve as horse leader, rider sidewalkers and assistants. Group lessons often require up to 12 volunteers per session.

Personnel

Julia Bozzo is the founder and Director of the NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center located in Bellingham, Washington, in operation since 1993. Julia is a PATH Intl. Certified Instructor, who received her training from the Fran Joswick Center (currently the Shea Center) in 1989. In addition, Julia is a Certified Equine Appraiser. She has a BS in Agriculture and Horse Production from Wilmington College and did graduate work in Animal Science at New Mexico State University.

Julia Bozzo

Pamela Cady, Event Coordinator and Editor of Ride & Shine. After a year of volunteering as a horse leader during lessons, Pam took on the Event Coordinator task and created the online newsletter for the Center. She and her husband moved here in 2008, after Pam retired from a federal court in San Diego. She has a B.A. from the Univ. of Denver, spent 11 years in Steamboat Springs, CO (riding her horses, teaching, skiing, camping), and loves being on staff at NWTRC.

Pamela Cady

Hilary Groh CTRS, Development Director and Riding Instructor Hilary began riding when she was 5 years old, and since then has competed on the Hunter/ Jumper circuit, trained sales projects, and taught lessons in both Western and English. Throughout the years Hilary has developed a great passion and enthusiasm for teaching and facilitating relationships between horses and riders, which has led her to pursue teaching at the NWTRC. Hilary has a BA in Therapeutic Recreation from Western Washington University; she is a nationally Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and a PATH Intl. Certified Registered Instructor. When Hilary isn't working, she enjoys spending her time riding, doing various outdoor recreation activities, traveling, and cooking.

Hilary Groh

Thank you, Danielle Shimota, for your many years of dedicated service as an instructor. She currently is working as a Registered Nurse and taking courses towards a BS in Nursing and is a member of the NWTRC Board of Directors!

Danielle and NWTRC Horse Zorro

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Volunteers

The NWTRC’s volunteers are members of the Whatcom County community who generously give their time in helping the Center with everything from feeding horses and cleaning stalls to serving as sidewalkers and horse leaders during riding sessions. Currently, approximately 30 lesson volunteers a week work at the center during scheduled sessions. Volunteers are trained by NWTRC’s professional staff, and are a vital element of the NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center’s program.

Volunteers at the NWTRC

Through its volunteer program, NWTRC provides opportunities for students to receive school credit for volunteer hours, learn horse handling skills, gain experience working with disabled clients. In special cases, NWTRC allows students internship opportunities and field experience through Western Washington University or Whatcom Community College, and future career training in areas ranging from barn management to special education.

Volunteers at the NWTRC

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The Horses

Meet our horses, the most valuable members of the NWTRC team. In fact, without them the Center could not exist! They are truly the backbone of our riding program.

Click here for information on sponsoring a horse

Kurt: Registered Norwegian Fjord Gelding; 13.3 hands. Born in Bellingham, WA in March of 1991. Donated to Mike and Julia Bozzo in 1993. Kurt is exceptional at working with the most severely disabled riders due to his gentle nature and immense work ethic. Kurt is a leader of horse and human.

  • 2006 Region 9 Therapeutic Horse of the Year
Kurt

Kleng: Norwegian Fjord Gelding; 13.3 hands. Born in Sooke. B.C. Canada on 10-11-91. Purchased by Mike and Julia Bozzo in 1994. Kleng possesses a friendly, calm personality, a strong steady walk, a tireless trot and a "rocking horse" canter. He is often used for beginning lead-line but also for independent riders because he is a friend to all. A gentleman and all around horse, Kleng excels at jumping, dressage, trail riding and is trained to pull a cart.

  • 2009 Region 9 Therapeutic Horse of the Year
  • 2009 National Therapeutic Horse of the Year
  • 2013 Horse Stars Hall of Fame - Humanitarian Equine
Kleng

DUTCH TREAT 1982 - May 8, 2013

The Northwest Therapeutic Riding Center sadly announces the passing of our beautiful "Dutch Treat" (DT), (a Dutch Warmblood), at the age of 31. For 16 years, DT set the highest standard with her exemplary work ethic and personality, a true shining star in our program.

We are establishing a memorial fund in her honor, the Stride For Distinction Fund, to continue the standards of excellence and follow in DT's hoofprints.

Click here to read more...

  • 2012 Region 9 Therapeutic Horse of the Year
DT

Cloud Nine: "Cloudy" is a 13 hand Welsh Pony mare foaled in 1988. In addition to her delightful personality, she has done "it all"; pulled carts, pony club, shows and lessons. Cloudy is on loan to the NWTRC from Sandra Hackney of West Linn, Oregon. We are so happy to have Cloudy with us at the NWTRC. She has become especially beloved by our smaller riders of whom she takes such good care.

Cloud Nine

Zorro: Norwegian Fjord Gelding. Born 4-28-2005, after three seasons he has exceeded our expectations, learns quickly, and is eager to please. He’s a true gem with an outstanding attitude the sky’s the limit! Zorro was purchased by the NWTRC from Snowy Mountain Fjords, in Cawston, B.C., with funds from the D.V & Ida McEachren Charitable Trust. We are very exited about Zorro’s future with our program.

Zorro

Vincent: Vincent is a 15.2 hand Trakener/QH cross foaled in 2003. He is owned by Julia Bozzo. He loves visiting with the riders and volunteers and never stops searching for treats. Vincent has the temperment and movement and when asked excels as a therapeutic riding horse.

Vincent

Georgia: Georgia is a 15.3 hand Registered Quarter Horse mare born in 2006. Georgia is half sister to Vincent and hails from Vanderhoof, BC. She joined the NWTRC herd in 2011 and gave her first therapeutic lessons in fall 2012. Georgia has become an instant favorite with our riders, volunteers and staff because of her laid back, quiet and kind personality. In addition to treats, Georgia loves riding in the field in the summer and jumping. She has exceeded all of our expectations and we truly look forward to seeing the bright future she has ahead of her!

Georgia

Henry T. Fjord The most recent member of our horse team, is a 14.3h, 11 year old Registered Norwegian Fjord Gelding. Henry is being loaned to the NWTRC by his wonderful owner, Deb Logan, who has had him since he was a yearling. Henry has spent most of life trail riding and exploring with Deb. He loves to be the center of attention and has become best buddies with Zorro! Henry is fitting in very well. Thank you, Deb, for use of this wonderful horse. (And for those who wonder, the the T. stands for "The".)

Henry T. Fjord

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Board of Directors

Mike Bozzo, Director: Mike has a degree in engineering from Chico State University. He worked for many years in the construction industry specializing in marine construction. He is employed with the Port of Bellingham as the maintenance and facilities manager. Mike designed and built most of the Center’s facilities and dedicates many hours a week as a volunteer maintaining the grounds, structures, and waste management. In his spare time Mike loves to garden, fish, and participate in autocross.

Audra Schroeder, Co-Board President: Audra had no idea the impact the Northwest Therapeutic Riding Center would have on her life when she became a volunteer in 2009. She was so touched by the wonderful riders, the powerhouse Fjords and the hardworking staff that she soon began helping out on many different levels including emcee for the Denim to Diamonds Gala, board member and eventually board co-chair.

Audra grew up on a ranch in South Texas and lived all over the Lone Star State before moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2005. She moved here for her career as a news anchor, working for KIRO-TV, Northwest Cable News and KGMI-Radio. However, these days the only 5-alarm fires Audra is racing off to are those started by her two young sons. Audra and her husband live near Lake Whatcom and enjoy all things outdoors and sporty...run, hike, swim, ski, bike and spike (volleyball)!

Christine Coder, Co-Board President: Christine along with daughter Natalie and son Merrick, recently immigrated from Vancouver, BC. Christine completed the Interior Design program from British Columbia Institute of Technology and has consulted for design firms in the lower mainland and owned and operated her own Interior Design business for 12 years. Merrick is off in Los Angeles finding his groove, and Natalie is at Sehome high school. Natalie, born with Spina Bifida, has been longing to ride for many years. Natalie is thrilled to get the opportunity to ride with Julia Bozzo and the Northwest Riding Center. Christine has been looking for an opportunity to be involved in Bellingham and joined the NWTRC Board of directors after seeing first-hand how riding and the connections made at the riding center make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities and their caregivers.

Dorene Moors, Treasurer: Dorene is the mother of Jason, who has participated in riding at NWTRC for the past three years. She has worked for more than 20 years as a bookkeeper and brings that skill and knowledge along with her experience as a mother of a special needs child to her work on the board. Dorene is very involved with her family, church and other families of special needs children.

Dr. Brooke Lucas, Secretary: Brooke is a large animal veterinarian at Kulshan Veterinary Hospital. She specializes in equine and integrative care including chiropractic and acupuncture, and is involved in keeping the NWTRC therapy horses healthy and living at their peak. Besides caring for horses and other animals, Brooke likes to hike, sew, read, cook, and explore the Pacific NW with her husband, Timothy. Brooke is a 2001 graduate of Oregon State University, and a 2006 graduate of Cornell University.

Greg Sieg: Greg earned a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Missouri, Masters of Science in Forest Science from Virginia Tech, and a Masters of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University. Greg has held a number of Senior Executive positions within the Forest Products, Telecommunications, and Construction Industries. Greg is presently working as the CIO of Ledcor Industries. Greg and his wife Mechelle, along with their dog "Sandy" and six horses moved to Lynden in 2012. Mechelle has a background in social work and counseling and did her undergraduate and graduate studies at Stephen Austin State University. Additionally, she has a background in wellness/fitness and taught as an adjunct professor in the SFSU Department of Kinesiology department. Mechelle also received her NARHA (North American Riding for the Handicapped Association). Greg and Mechelle are combining their efforts to support NWTRC.

Pete Wells: Pete hails from Bay City, Michigan and received a BA from Hillsdale College in Political Science. He has been a Bellingham resident for over thirty years, and worked as a homebuilder. Sports have been a big part of Pete's life, and he has organized canoe and kayak events, is one of the founders and coaches with the Whatcom Speedskating Club, and has competed in bicycle racing and triathlons with his son Keenan, a special education teacher. It was Keenan that got Pete involved with the Max Higbee organization, and working with special needs people. Pete is also a member of the Bellingham Central Lions Club. The NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center seemed a perfect fit for Pete to combine his love for sports and horseracing with a desire to continue to work with special needs people. Pete considers serving on the NWTRC Board a great privilege, as well as working with the most majestic of animals, the horse.

Warren Monroe: Warren is co-owner of the design company Web Rodeo, which donated a new website and logo re-design to the NWTRC. Warren, an avid horseman, became a board member in 2006. He and his wife, Karen, provide invaluable web and program design as well as maintenance for our website. Warren is a Western Washington University alumnus with a BS in Computer Science.

Past Members
We would like to thank everyone for all their efforts over the years.

  • Danielle Shimota
  • Mary Wister Rawlins
  • Arline Fonda
  • Kaler Crane
  • Josh Wilund
  • Gene Zande
  • Dr. David Sauter
  • Skip Ness
  • Phil Simmons
  • Gary Burlingame
  • Jack Ludwigson, ESQ.
  • Annette Boothe
  • Jeri Davis
  • Kate Simmons
  • Mary Jansky

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1884 Kelly Road • Bellingham, WA 98226 • 360-966-2124
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