TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly on Thursday put some horsepower behind legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney to create license plates honoring the state animal and supporting therapeutic riding programs. The measure passed the full Assembly unanimously.
“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 programs that combine riding and therapy,” said Rooney (R-Bergen). “Deserving residents experiencing disabling mental and physical health conditions will be able to experience a horse’s healing gifts thanks to this bill.”
National statistics show that about one in five people, or approximately 1.7 million New Jersey residents, have a disability. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about seven out of every 100 veterans, or 24,500 of New Jersey’s 350,000 vets, suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“More than a million New Jerseyans have a condition that could be improved by working with a horse. This bill could have a very meaningful impact,” Rooney added.
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 PTSD 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.
“New Jersey has more horses per capita than any other state in the nation, so it is fitting to permanently commemorate them on a state license plate that will support their welfare and riding programs for residents in need,” said Rooney.
Under the bill (A203), 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.