TRENTON, N.J. – Sitting atop the state seal is the horse, which also happens to be the state animal. In fact, New Jersey holds the national title for having the most horses — more than 27,600. That’s one horse for every 323 people or nearly 4 horses for every square mile.
The animals are used for racing, breeding, showing, pleasure riding and, more recently, therapy for children and adults with disabilities. Equine therapy is a growing industry in the Garden State and nationwide.
To help fund therapeutic riding programs, Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney (R-Bergen) has introduced legislation (A4800) calling for the Motor Vehicle Commission to create a special state animal license plate featuring an emblem noting the horse as the official state animal.
“Given our love affair with this beautiful animal, this is a great way for residents to support these programs which are helping so many people, especially children,” said Rooney. “Horses are particularly effective because they respond immediately making it easy for children and adults with learning, emotional and physical disabilities to connect with the horse. This is a perfect fit.”
The $50 application fee and $10 annual renewal are earmarked for the state animal license plate fund. Proceeds will help support therapeutic riding for people with special needs as well as the health and wellbeing of horses.
The therapy is effective for people with autism, delay in mental development, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, learning disabilities and trauma and brain injuries.
It helps improve motor coordination, posture, balance, muscle tone, concentration, self-esteem and self-confidence.