Allison Rhyne takes the reins of FENCE’s TROT Program

Published 1:39 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Students enrolled in the Therapeutic Riding of Tryon (TROT) program at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE) will see a new face holding the reins.

Allison Rhyne

Allison Rhyne, Greenville, S.C. native, took a step back from the insurance business where she specialized in risk management since 1979. She was hired as TROT’s new program director in January and lives in Lake Lure with her husband Jack Evans and their “four-legged family” of three dogs and one horse.

TROT, which started in 2004, gives children and adults with disabilities like cerebral palsy and autism the chance to connect with horses and ride at FENCE, Rhyne said. She added as many as three individuals guide the students and their horses as they ride depending on the student’s disabilities.

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“As a long-time horse person, I have seen firsthand how much a relationship with a horse can change a person’s perspective, build their confidence and improve skills,” Rhyne said. “It is a dream to be able to work with a program that is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children and adults using horses as the bridge.”

Rhyne said as she grew up in Greenville, she would come up to the Foothills to go camping and later to FENCE for horse events as an adult.

Rhyne said that “FENCE feels like home to me and this my opportunity for me to give back to the people in the community.”

Rhyne received a bachelor of arts degree in politics from Wake Forest University. She said that while she took riding lessons as a child, she did not purchase her first horse until she was an adult.

TROT will begin their spring sessions for disabled individuals on March 13 and the sessions will continue for 10 weeks throughout the spring. TROT sees students from Polk, Rutherford, Spartanburg and Greenville Counties. (Photos by Michael O’Hearn)

“This is a major career switch for me,” Rhyne explained. “I worked primarily with financial institutions like credit unions and community banks in the insurance business. When the executive board of directors here at FENCE was looking for someone to fill the program director role, they wanted someone who had experience in business and management.”

Rhyne’s hobbies include hiking and kayaking and she said her husband wanted them to move from Saluda to Lake Lure because he wanted to be on the lake. Her husband works as a senior project manager in Greenville at Website Pipeline.

“My husband is not a horse person, but he was excited for me because he knew it would be something I would be good at with my background,” Rhyne said.

Expanding TROT’s classes is something Rhyne said the program would be doing this spring. TROT used to have classes on Mondays and Tuesdays; Rhyne said the program needed to add Wednesday classes to the schedule because more students wanted to join.

TROT will begin their 10-week program for the spring on March 13 and Rhyne said each class is customizable based on the needs of each student.

“The board of directors was interested in expanding TROT and we’ve had so many individuals who want to sign up for our classes. We’ve been fortunate to have students who have done sessions in the fall come back for the spring,” Rhyne said. “These sessions offer a customized, high quality experience for all students in addition to fun. There are many benefits from therapeutic riding.”

“All of the horses here are volunteer horses, meaning we do not own any of them,” Rhyne said. “It’s a big commitment for the owners to drop them off in the morning and bring them home at night every week for 10 weeks during the spring and fall.”

Volunteers are needed and can contact FENCE at 828-859-9021. Rhyne said TROT’s training schedule begins on March 4 at 9 a.m. where volunteers learn how to handle the needs of students through training videos and hands-on experience at TROT’s barn.

“This is one program under FENCE and it’s not a separate nonprofit organization,” Rhyne explained. “FENCE is committed to this program and it’s been getting tons of support. I get an enjoyment in seeing the progress made by the students as they get more comfortable with their horses and how people’s eyes light up when they are able to ride.”