Meeting People Where They Are

Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Center is a place where individuals with special challenges come together, and where victories — some dramatic, some modest, but all significant — are joyously celebrated.

Our programs are highly tailored. We develop individualized lessons to meet the goals and objectives of a diverse group of students. Riders include children, teens, seniors, and military personnel. Their goals can be based on physical, intellectual, social, educational, emotional, or behavioral needs. Some riders want to improve mobility, others want to increase their ability to understand the world around them. Our team helps riders achieve their therapy goals while creating an exciting and pleasurable experience. The joy of working with a horse provides momentum to change lives, and accomplish goals that carry over into life-skills.

Our instructors are certified, meeting the rigorous standards of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH). The instructor must pass an exam and take continuing education courses. This helps ensure we maintain quality therapeutic programs with measurable successes!

Please contact us to discuss your specific needs. After we receive your application our Horse Program Manager will contact you and make suggestions about what program and specific instructor will be the best fit. Once your program begins you will work to set measurable goals and objectives.

Students Meeting Physical Challenges

This program is focused on addressing the needs of students with physical challenges such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Orthopedic Issues or a loss of a limb.

Rainbow uses tools such as mounting ramps and harnesses to enable many as many students as possible to participate in the riding lessons. The program eliminates total reliance on crutches or wheelchairs and allows the feeling of independent movement. The children have individual lessons for 30 minutes. Each lesson involves one instructor, a horse leader, and two side walkers, to ensure the safety of the riders.

The three-dimensional, rhythmical motion of the horse’s movement stimulates and works the muscles of the rider. Because the horse’s gait is very similar to the human gait, the motion of the horse stimulates the nerves and muscles we use when walking. This helps improve core strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination. It also promotes improvement in body awareness, muscle control, and gross motor skills. This form of recreation can provide emotional benefits include feelings of accomplishment and self-esteem.

Students With Intellectual and Development Delays, Anxiety Disorder, ADHD, Depression

This program is geared toward students having difficulties to focus, learn and accept new ways of doing things, are diagnosed with ADHD, deal with depression, or experience intellectual and developmental delays such as autism or downs syndrome.

These lessons are mostly individual or semi-private. The students are encouraged to pursue their level of riding as far as the would like, with some becoming fully independent riders. For some getting the physical activity is a goal in itself.

Horses act as a powerful motivational tool for learning. In addition to the riding, ground work activities such as grooming or tacking up can improve and reinforce motor planning, eye-hand coordination, visual recognition and social skills. There is less resistance to learning when animals are involved. Observing, interacting and working with horses not only engages individuals it can help them learn about themselves and their environment.

The autism program provides individual or small group sessions allowing participants the opportunity to develop problem-solving abilities, build trust in relationships, increase attention, communication, responsiveness and willingness to follow instruction, engage with a sensory stimulating environment, and improve self-confidence/control.

Walter Reed at Rainbow

This is available to military personnel, from Walter Reed Hospital, who experience physical or mental challenges. Injuries including traumatic brain injury, amputations, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These students are recommended by occupational therapists at Walter Reed who believe the individuals can gain from recreational therapy, helping them relearn life and leadership skills while gaining self-acceptance Sessions are currently held every two weeks. The program strives to provide therapeutic benefits including increasing the participants’ strength, stability, balance, and muscle tone, also improving mobility and range of motion. In addition, the program offers the opportunity to build confidence, self-esteem and personal empowerment. Each session is two hours and has between 4 and 8 participants, with two instructors. Individual instruction is given within a group environment. All participants have a horse. Mountain ramps are used as needed. Some students ride and do ground work while other do ground work only. Participants work in a round pen with horses. Riding is mostly at a moderate pace where riders learn to control and communicate with the horse. A communal meal is provided which gives participants a chance to share stories or life experiences.

Enriching At-Risk Youth

Participants are youth between 12 and 21 years of age. They have faced difficulties such as being part of a family in crisis or experiencing trauma, resulting in conduct issues. The youth come to Rainbow through county programs or directly by parents.

This program involves private one-on-one sixty-minute lessons. Able body students will develop into independent riders. Courses begin with ground work to establish trust and respect for horses. Students learn about horse care enabling them to move forward with riding if they choose. They continue to assisted and then independent riding.

These lessons encourage young adults to work out challenges and find solutions. They teach how to create healthy boundaries and help to understand and manage energy control. Horses are large, sometimes intimidating animals that are sensitive to human emotions and respond to both verbal and non-verbal communication.  The required communication with the horse builds trust and helps improve overall communications skills. The horses challenge riders to overcome issues of fear, self-confidence, trust, honesty, and patience.  Riders develop a relationship with their horse and volunteers, and in the process, learn important lessons about responsibility, respect for others, accountability, and teamwork.  All of this while having fun.


Download our PDF application and return it to us by email or U.S. Postal Service.

Credits: Equine Assisted Therapeutic Lessons © Anne Simone, Mane Experience © Anne Simone, Walter Reed at Rainbow © xxxxxx, Equine Assisted Learning © Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Center.