Therapeutic Riding

Please see FORMS section to download participant paperwork, participant handbook, scholarship application, and 2014-2015 calendar.

Therapeutic Riding is an equine activity for people with various disabilities, in which participants sit astride a horse and learn riding skills.

Physical Benefits:

When on horseback, a rider's pelvis naturally moves in a manner that closely simulates walking. This repetitive 3-D movement, aboard a warm living partner, allows for:

  • Improvement in body awareness, spatial orientation, endurance, balance, head and postural control.
  • Stimulation of the nervous, circulatory, respiratory systems, speech and memory centers of the brain.
  • Strengthening and relaxing of muscles and the mobilization of the pelvis, lumbar spine, and hip joints.
  • Provides strong graded tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular input, which can be used to improve sensorimotor integration.

Emotional Benefits:

Mounted on a horse, a rider feels exhilarated in body and spirit. In guiding the horse, a rider is involved in a cause and effect relationship which can be transferred to human relationships.

  • Self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and emotional well-being is enhanced.
  • Concentration and attention span increases.
  • Human-animal bonding takes place and social interactions improve.


Therapeutic Riding Fact Sheet

Does UpReach operate year round?

  • Yes, our 90’X175’ indoor arena is available for year round lessons. The arena is insulated keeping temperatures relatively warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Is outside riding available?

  • A sensory trail is available on the UpReach property for riders. Riding lessons are also held in the outdoor ring as weather and footing permits.

What times are available for lessons?

  • Lessons are held Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday from 10am-7pm and Friday 10am-1pm.

How often do participants take lessons?

  • Participants take lessons 1 time weekly.
  • UpReach operates in 6-week & 8-week terms, so participants attend lessons the same day and time throughout the term

How long are riding lessons and what is the cost?

  • Riding lessons are 1 hour long and cost $55 per lesson hour ($330 for 6-week term & $440 for 8-week term). Payment or payment arrangements are due in advance and due dates are noted on the UpReach Calendar.

What is the format for riding lessons?

  • Most riding lessons are held in a group of 2 or more riders. Riders participate in grooming and tacking to improve fine and gross motor skills, sequencing, and accept responsibility for preparing their horse for the lesson. Once the horse is groomed and tacked, the rider mounts and participates in a variety of riding activities to develop skills and achieve individual goals. Riders are dismounted 5 minutes prior to lesson end to assist with putting away the saddle and other equipment.

Are there any weight or age restrictions?

  • Yes, for the safety of our clients, volunteers, and horses we have a weight limit of 180 pounds for riding. We do not typically accept clients until they reach three years of age.

Is funding assistance available?

  • There are many ways to seek funding for our services. For a list of possible funding sources contact Karen Kersting at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . UpReach also provides funding based on income when scholarship funds are available.

Are the services UpReach provides billable to insurance?

  • Our services are not typically billable to insurance companies, therefore referrals are not required.

How do I become a participant in the riding program?

  • All individuals interested in becoming a participant must complete the following forms: Application & Health History, Liability Release, Emergency Medical Consent and Photo/Video Consent, Physicians Statement (must be completed and signed by the physician), and Availability Form.

What happens once the paperwork is received?

  • If the paperwork reflects that the applicant can safely be served, the applicant is put on the waiting list until an opening arises.

How long is the waiting list?

  • The length of time an applicant will be on the waiting list is determined by the applicant’s hours of availability, as well as horse, arena, and instructor availability.

What happens once I am offered a lesson day and time?

  • Once a lesson day and time has been scheduled, you will be scheduled to attend an intake with the instructor that will be teaching your lesson.

What will take place at the intake?

  • You will receive a tour of the facility, meet your instructor, review paperwork, discuss individual goals, and UpReach policies and procedures. There will also be a question and answer opportunity for the UpReach staff as well as the participant.

Is any special attire required?

  • Everyone taking riding lessons must wear an ASTM/SEI certified helmet. UpReach has an assortment of ASTM/SEI helmets for client use.
  • Long pants are suggested.
  • Clients must wear a closed heel, closed toe shoe. A boot or shoe with a heel is recommended, but not required.
  • During winter months it is suggested you dress in layers and wear gloves.

Therapeutic Riding Testimonials

From a Parent of a Rider:

“This week was his second lesson and he is enjoying the people, the horses and the atmosphere. The team of volunteers that works with him have provided feedback that has built his confidence and has gained his trust and respect. He speaks so highly of the people who participate in his lesson. He even told me one person referred to him as 'awesome Austin' and he thought that was really special. :)

Please extend our families thanks and appreciation to Darla and the rest of the volunteer team who work with Austin. We are so grateful to have found your program and to be able to have Austin participate in it.”

From a Rider:

“Today I am very excited because I know I am going horseback riding (the picture on my schedule tells me so)! I enter the barn slowly each time so I can touch & admire the handprints on the wall. I linger by the arena to watch the current rider and take in the smells and sounds of the barn. As my riding partner, volunteers, and instructor enter, I greet them using my Mini-mo (Augmentative Communication Device). I wear a huge smile on my face as I head down to meet my horse. I love brushing my horse and feeling the texture of his hair through my fingers. Sometimes I even sneak in a kiss or two just to show him how much he means to me! My excitement soars as I mount my horse. As soon as we start to move, I feel in control of my body and thoughts, which is something I don’t experience often. I listen carefully to the choices I have during my lesson. I love having the independence of choosing which activity I’ll do next (using my mini-mo). I choose trotting most of the time because it is my favorite thing to do! I laugh the whole time. I am proud of myself while I am riding and I like to sit up tall and hold my head high for the whole world to see! Thank you so much to my gentle horse, caring volunteers, and knowledgeable instructors for giving me the opportunity to shine once a week!”

From a Parent of a Rider:

“The horse provides strong graded tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular input, which improves Ben’s sensorimotor integration. We’ve noticed an amazing improvement in Benjamin’s attentiveness and concentration. At the end of each session, the family is given a progress report. The last report showed Benjamin met and exceeded many of his objectives. I can honestly say, Benjamin’s confidence, physical mobility, body awareness, muscle tone, and behaviors changed dramatically over the last year. There is no doubt that therapeutic horseback riding is effective in helping children like our Benjamin develop and accelerate in the areas where they special attention while providing the opportunity to participate in a healthy activity and learning environment.”