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Equestrian Center Equine Activities for Challenged Riders

Equine assisted activities began in the US in the 1960’s. PATH was established in 1969. The horse and human union can produce some remarkable results. Many of these results stretch beyond the physical.

Click here to Download our New Challenged Rider Enrollment Application

Our riders gain a sense of independence which could not otherwise be achieved. Riders benefit from the interaction between other riders, volunteers, instructors and the warm supportive horse. Under the direction of their instructor, riders take on challenges such as balancing on the horse, learning to steer, control and interact with a horse specially chosen and trained as a therapy partner. Riders participate in exercises, learn riding skills, interact in games and learn how to care for their mount. Riders are assisted by horse leaders and side-aides benefiting from the movement of the horse, which strengthens and relaxes muscles. Challenged riders range in age from 2 through adult. Classes are goal-oriented and designed to teach all aspects of horsemanship.

We serve many different types of disabilities.

Character Reins

Character Reins is a program that uses equines and activities to teach and reinforce character traits and core values. This program focuses on youth who are at-risk of truancy, failing grades in the traditional school setting or are disengaged learners. We can arrange a program specifically for each group, depending on the need and age of the participants. We use a curriculum that accommodates all learning methods and wraps around academic standards, developmental assets and character education. Each component makes learning fun, exciting and successful. The skills learned can easily be transferred to their lives outside school.

Un-Mounted Classes

Classes for riders who are not able or choose not to experience horses mounted and riding, we offer classes only on the ground. It is any horse related learning experience other than riding. All persons who wish to explore the world of equine activities can be aware of the exciting, unique world beyond the riding arena. That is where the real human-horse bonding takes place. The stable area is a cornucopia of multi-sensory input with therapeutic benefits! The stirring thrill of feeding a horse a treat, the joy of watching horses at play or feeling the fuzzy warmth of the horse's neck becomes a delightful sensory experience. A detailed meaningful program can be developed for each group.

Benefits of Equine Activities

Many measurable therapeutic benefits come without the rider even being aware! The benefits are not only physical in nature or reserved for individuals with physical disabilities. There are emotional and psychological benefits as well. Horses are non-judgmental. They provide a strong shoulder to lean on, and they do not shun people who are different.


Improves balance and coordination
Provides passive stretch for tight muscles
Replicates a muscle movement pattern like that of walking
Improves posture
Strengthens muscles by encouraging muscular response
Increases awareness of one’s body in space (proprioception)
Stimulates the vesicular, nervous and circulatory systems
Improves range of motion
Skills for Success

The skills learned in riding class can be applied elsewhere in the lives of participants. Each time a participant has a success in riding, such as using problem solving skills, though it may not always be easy, he or she learns to deal with other problems.

Equine activities and riding may also benefit those having difficulty with school lessons, such as material teaching colors and numbers and right/left discrimination. This is often incorporated into the riding lesson, but learning on horseback is fun! Most of the time, the students do not realize they are learning much more than just how to ride! What students learn in their equine activities is often carried back into the classroom without them realizing it.

Reinforces standards of behavior
Teaches trust through the rider/horse bond
Teaches problem solving skills
Increases self-confidence and self-discipline
Teaches the use of patience to control the horse
Enhances decision making skills
Promotes responsibility and cooperation
Increases the ability to focus and stay on task
Provides an increase in self-esteem and pride
Instills a sense of accomplishment

While the benefits of equine activities have been medically documented, statistics alone cannot fully describe the true value of this service. The look of confidence, pride and achievement on a participant’s face when he or she has successfully completed a task is the most profound measure of its value.

Other Riding Programs

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Horseback Riding for All »
Public Awareness and Education »
Horses for Heroes »