TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey’s state animal, the horse, is trotting towards its own license plate to support therapeutic riding programs for veterans and individuals with special needs. The Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee passed the legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney today.
“The monies generated from the sale of this license plate will not only help our beautiful state animal, the horse, but also people with special needs and veterans who benefit from therapy riding,” said Rooney (R-Bergen). “Working with a horse is proven to help people improve both mentally and physically.”
Therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity that improves a person’s balance, flexibility, coordination, and muscle strength. People benefit cognitively, physically, emotionally and socially. For military veterans, it helps reduce post-traumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms. The therapy has also shown to be effective for people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, learning disabilities, trauma and brain injuries.
“The power of horses cannot be overstated,” said Rooney. “They deserve to be commemorated so that more people can realize the advantages of an effective therapy that uses the animal’s unique gifts to heal.”
Motorists interested in obtaining the state animal license plate through the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission would pay a $50 application fee and a $10 renewal fee.
New Jersey has more horses per capita than any other state in the nation. Even the U.S. Equestrian Team Olympic Training Center and Headquarters is located in New Jersey. Horses are used for racing, breeding, showing, horseback riding and, more recently, therapy for children and adults with special needs as well as veterans.
The Assembly passed the bill unanimously last session, but the Senate failed to act. This session’s bill also passed the Senate Transportation Committee on Jan. 27.