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Catherine Ghia Beck ’79 and the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program

Natalie Beck riding

Natalie Beck riding at NVTRP

As a student of the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program (NVTRP), Natalie Beck gets to ride horseback once a week, rain or shine.

“Natalie has a hearty attitude towards the weather,” says her mother, Catherine Beck ’79, NVTRP office manager and graduate of Robert Morris University’s business administration program. “You would think she was from Pittsburgh.”

In 2003, Catherine called NVTRP to inquire about opportunities for her pre-schooler, Natalie, who lives with physical and intellectual challenges. Today Natalie is in middle school and entering her ninth year as a rider. “This program has strengthened her core muscles and enhanced her ability to focus,” says Catherine. “She understands that her every movement controls the horse. It has given her confidence and courage.”

Studies have shown that horseback riding can be therapeutic. By focusing on each rider’s abilities, NVTRP has been able to use this physically-active sport to help individuals with physical, mental, or emotional challenges improve their balance, coordination, muscular strength, social skills, and self confidence. “It really enriches their lives,” says Catherine.

Catherine Beck and family

Catherine Beck and family

Originally from the City of Arnold, just northeast of Pittsburgh, Catherine was only the second woman to graduate from RMU’s business administration program with a minor in transportation. “All the courses they offered back then were strictly within the business curriculum,’ she says. “There were no fluff electives. I didn’t appreciate this when I was a student, but it has paid off many times over the years.”

Prior to joining NVTRP team in 2011, she worked for in logistical and managerial areas with Corning Inc. and J.C. Penny.

Catherine says what she likes best about working for NVTRP is the variety. “Every day is unique,” she says. “As a non-profit, we have to come up with creative ideas to accomplish goals. The environment is beautiful and calming, and the organization provides a great service to the community. It is an honor to be part of the team.” ■

By Valentine J. Brkich

The Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program is a Premier Accredited Center of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International and a member center of the Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia. For more information, please visit

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