SUNY Cobleskill’s Therapeutic Horsemanship Program has received a donation of arena footing to add an extra layer of cushion and protection to the facilities floor. The product is a mixture of felt and rubber of used tennis balls, produced by RecycleBalls, a non-profit organization based in Burlington, Vermont. The donation totals 4,268 pounds of ground material, the equivalent of 33,000 tennis balls.
“We installed footing in our arena a couple of years ago, but we really needed a little bit more footing to make the surface nice and soft and user-friendly for a lot of our riders, especially our younger ones,” said Margaret Mansfield, associate professor of Therapeutic Horsemanship at SUNY Cobleskill. “As a college of agriculture and technology, we are guided by sustainable practices. We are grateful for RecycleBalls both for the important work they are doing, and for the kindness they’ve shown through this donation.”
Mansfield inquired with RecycleBalls about obtaining the “Green Gold” footing for the College’s arena after hearing about a similar program that had the material installed.
“While we usually sell our recycled materials to help support our mission of recycling or reusing every tennis ball, we were inspired by SUNY Cobleskill’s commitment to helping kids and veterans through therapeutic riding,” said Ric Lashway of RecycleBalls. “We are very impressed with their mission and the people we have met at this school and felt compelled to make a donation of horse footing.”
Landfills receive roughly 125 million used tennis balls yearly, each taking about 400 years to decompose fully. Since 2016, RecycleBalls has collected more than five million balls through the placement of thousands of courtside recycling bins. As the first organization in U.S. tennis with a large-scale collection solution for all played tennis balls, Recycleballs was one of four non-profits nominated as an environmental finalist in the prestigious 2019 Halo Awards.
The SUNY Cobleskill Therapeutic Horsemanship Program has served individuals with special needs and Veterans for over 20 years. The program was expanded in 2016 to include a Bachelor’s in Technology (BT) degree in Therapeutic Horsemanship where students participate in experiential learning and assist in providing Equine Assisted Services to individuals with disabilities on campus and in the surrounding community. Coursework includes a unique mix of animal science, psychology, early childhood education, and physical education and recreation classes.