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She uses ponies to help children communicate better

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Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 2:23 pm | Updated: 2:30 pm, Wed Apr 13, 2011.

Rachel Gerhart, a Douglassville native and graduate of Daniel Boone High School, has started a new business in Exeter Township near Birdsboro — PonyTalk Speech Therapy Services.

It provides professional, effective speech and language therapy for children ages two to 10 using http://www.americanhippotherapyassociation.org/">hippotherapy — a strategy that uses the natural movement of horses to generate and support successful communication skills. (Hippo means horse in Greek.)

It is one of only two hippotherapy programs in Berks County. The field has fewer than 15 registered therapists in the state.

Hippotherapy can meet a child's sensory needs, increase his or her attention and motivation, provide postural support and control, and increase motor planning abilities so that he or she can focus more specifically on speech and language production and communication skills.

Gerhart is a Level 1 registered Hippotherapy therapist and is the program director and lead therapist at PonyTalk.

She opened PonyTalk as a way to merge her experience and passion for speech and language therapy with her love for horses. The program fills the void in the Berks County area for an alternative but effective speech and language therapy option.

PonyTalk is hosting a grand opening at http://www.windsweptacresatstonetown.com/contact.html">Windswept Acres at Stonetown, 341 Stonetown Road, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 17. You can meet the farm owners, the speech-language pathologist, horses, other riders and volunteers.

Information will be available on boarding/training, riding lessons, horse shows, summer camps and the United States Pony Club.

Contact Gerhart at 610-451-9370 or ponytalk@yahoo.com or visit www.ponytalksts.com for more information.

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