We want to welcome Murray Neale to the Hearts staff! Murray joins Hearts as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor and will be teaching on Friday afternoons.
Not only is Murray one of the kindest, most approachable people you will ever meet, she also has an impressive (and extensive!) background in horsemanship and equine-assisted services. Hearts is truly lucky to have her as an addition to its team.
Murray began teaching people with disabilities at the age of 14 when one of her mother’s friends brought a young girl, who was blind, to visit the stable. Murray helped introduce her to the world of horses, and she was amazed by the girl’s reaction. Murray continued to work with her throughout high school. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for connecting horses and people with disabilities.
During her high school and undergraduate years, Murray competed as an Event rider, earned her ‘A’ rating from the United States Pony Club, and became a riding teacher. She worked with various pony clubs, was an instructor at Smith College, and spent four summers as the Head of Riding at Brown Ledge Camp in Vermont. She earned her certification as a therapeutic riding instructor at the Cheff Center in Michigan. While working on her Masters’ thesis in Physical Education, Murray developed a therapeutic riding program for United Cerebral Palsy of New York City. Lessons took place at the historic Claremont Stables on West 89th street, where she was teaching. Murray continued developing programs and teaching therapeutic riding while working with the United Cerebral Palsy Center in Sullivan County, UCP in Manhattan, and Winslow Therapeutic Riding in New Jersey. She also kept working with more typical students at stables in NYC, upstate New York, Vermont, and New Jersey.
In 1996, Murray and her family moved from NJ to Charleston, SC. She started teaching for a small therapeutic riding program and in 1997 became the Executive Director of Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding, Inc. (CATR).
During her 23 years at CATR, the program grew from 12 students at a borrowed facility to serving over 175 students on its 30-acre farm, employing two dozen horses and a staff of twenty. While at CATR, Murray wrote grants, mentored novice instructors, trained and cared for horses, developed new programs, and in 2016 led a successful capital campaign to build a large covered arena. In 2020 Murray handed over the reins of CATR, and it continues to thrive.
AfterMurray retired from CATR in 2020, she and her husband, Randy, moved to Santa Barbara to be closer to their family. Their son, Al, and his wife, Betsy, live in Santa Barbara, and their son, James, resides in Portland, OR.