We’ve done our best to create a website that anticipates and satisfies our clients’ needs. With that goal in mind, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions about therapeutic riding. If you do not find an answer to your question here, please contact us at 480-262-3434 or
What is an Equine Assisted Activity?
An activity modified for persons with special needs that involves specially trained horses.
How is Therapeutic Horseback Riding Different From Ordinary Horseback Riding?
In therapeutic horseback riding, the rider is instructed by a specially trained and experienced instructor, horse, and volunteer assistants, and may use specially modified tack and facilities, such as a ramp designed to accommodate a wheelchair for mounting.
What is Therapeutic Riding?
Therapeutic riding has been around since 1925. It is practiced in some form in most countries in the world. Great Britain formed the Riding for the Disabled (RDA) program initially to promote competition and equine sports for the disabled. Israel formed the Israel National Therapeutic Riding Association (INTRA) to promote the same goals to include helping its country’s military veterans. PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship formerly the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association) and the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA) in the United States put forward a model that incorporates therapy, education, sport, and recreation/leisure activities as well as high standards, safety, and regulation.
What are the Physical Benefits?
The horse’s three-dimensional gait closely simulates the movement of the human pelvis and is a valuable therapeutic tool. This movement and the warmth of the horse promote many physical benefits such as increased circulation, relaxation of tight muscles, strengthening of weak muscles, increase in pelvic & trunk mobility, development of balance & coordination and improvement in posture. Visit our Therapeutic Riding Page for more information,
What are the Social Benefits?
Group riding activities promote socialization, increased vocalization and attention span.
Each rider has short and long-term therapeutic riding objectives which the instructor monitors and measures to meet and challenge the rider’s abilities.
Visit our Therapeutic Riding Page for more information.
What is PATH International?
PATH International is an international organization which promotes safe, professional, ethical and therapeutic equine activities through education, communication, standards & research for people with and without disabilities.
Who are the Instructors?
Envision has three experienced Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors (CTRI) to provide therapeutic riding: Leslie Paradise, who is also a Certified Therapeutic Driving Instructor, Barbara Beard, who is especially passionate about working with veterans and military families, and Lisa Péwé, who is also a Certified Equine Specialist and specializes in Equine Assisted Learning and Life Coaching. We operate totally under PATH International standards and guidelines. Visit our Staff page for more information.
How is a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (CTRI) trained?
First, a prospective CTRI usually has extensive horse experience, including training and caring for horses, and usually also instructing people of all ages to verifiable levels of competency in one or more fields, ideally in horsemanship and equitation as one of them, or people with special needs. To begin a candidacy, 25 hours of student teaching is required under the close guidance of a CTRI. This is preceeded or followed by a two day PATH International workshop.
To become certified, the candidate is first required to pass a written test on horses, riding, disabilities, etc. Next, in front of two PATH International evaluators, a personal riding test is performed, usually on a horse with whom he/she is not familiar. The evaluation ends with a teaching demonstration of a 20 minute therapeutic riding class for two special needs riders.
What is Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL)?
Equine Facilitated Learning and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy use a variety of equine-assisted activities to achieve a number of therapeutic outcomes, including cognitive, emotional, social, educational and behavioral goals such as improved self-esteem, problem-solving, communication, boundary setting and recognition, stress management, trust and respect. Visit our Equine Therapy Page for more information.
What Disabilities do You Serve?
With a physician’s release for horseback riding, many special needs are served: autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, stroke, traumatic brain injury and MS, to name a few.
What Ages do you Serve?
Ages 4-adult. Our oldest rider was 82.
What about Confidentiality?
Staff and volunteers sign an agreement that all personal information for all participants is kept in strict confidence.
What Safety Precautions Do You Take?
We make every effort to maximize the safety of the riders and also the staff, volunteers, and horses. First, our staff and volunteers are very experienced and thoroughly trained in safety and emergency procedures. Riders are required to wear ASTM™ Approved, SEI® Certified horseback riding helmets and closed toed shoes. Lastly, our horses are specially trained for therapeutic riding. Riders are also assigned to up to three volunteers for their safety, depending on their needs: a horse leader, a side walker or spotter, and a specialized coach to guide the lesson under the direction of the CTRI. All are prepared to react in the event of an emergency. Despite all the specialized training, horses are still animals and can be unpredictable.
What Kind of Horses Do You Use?
We use horses of all breeds, sizes, gaits and colors in order to fit each rider’s physical and mental needs. Usually they are older and very experienced in life which gives them a very calm and patient attitude. What is consistent is the specialized training for this type of horse. People are often amazed that these animals seem to have a sixth sense to take care of their special needs rider. We see it all the time.
What Kind of Tack Do the Horses Wear?
Participants usually start out riding on what we call ‘bareback pads’. These are thick pads without stirrups so that the rider is able to feel and benefit from the horses’ movement without the restrictions of a saddle. Participants could also ride in Western or English saddles. All horses will have some sort of reins attached to a halter or bridle or a neck rope.
How Often Do Participants Ride?
There are (6) 6-week sessions in a ride year, beginning in September and ending in mid-June.
There is a ‘break week’ in between each 6-week session. Participants typically ride once a week, unless other arrangements are made.
New riders can begin anytime during the year, but it is encouraged and beneficial to ride at least 5 ride sessions.
How Long are the Lessons?
The mounted lessons are 30 minutes. Allow an hour, because students should arrive 15 minutes before, and will need 15 minutes after, the mounted arena time.
What Do Lessons Cost?
$50 per small group lesson, $270 per package of 6 lesson session
Will You Bill My Health Insurance Plan for My Sessions?
Unfortunately, we cannot bill your health insurance plan for you at this time. We will provide a receipt for payment. If your health insurance plan covers non-traditional therapies or recreation therapy, you may be able to submit a claim. Check with your insurance company about what your policy covers. Physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and mental health professionals who work with us bill separately for their services. Some may be able to bill your health insurance plan for you. Inquire about this possibility with your therapist.
How Do Participants Get on the Horse?
There is a mounting ramp suitable for able bodied as well as wheelchair mounts. This can be used for dismounts as well, but usually a rider dismounts to the ground with assistance from a CTRI. A mounting ‘block’ could also be used for advanced riders to mount. All mounts and dismounts are assisted or guided by a CTRI, no exceptions.
Will You Work with Our OT/PT and Speech Therapists?
Absolutely! It is important that therapies have a common goal for the rider. It is also important that there be ongoing communication with the family about the rider’s needs, personality, emotions, etc.
What Should Participants Wear to Their Lesson?
Close toed shoes, preferably with a ¼- ½ inch heel and minimal tread on the soles, and some ankle support that will not slip off the way a loafer would, together with long, non-slippery pants. It is preferable that you buy your own ASTM™ Approved, SEI® Certified horseback riding helmet that is your correct size. Please, no sandals. Sandals = No Ride. No helmet = No Ride. No exceptions.
What if a Participant Can’t Attend a Lesson due to Illness or a Conflict?
A 24 hour notice for an absence is required. If proper notice is given, a credit will be given for that absence. Less than 24 hour notices or no-shows will be charged because a horse and volunteers will already have been assigned and readied.
What if it Rains?
We make every effort to ride and to make timely calls for cancellations due to weather issues. But sometimes classes are cancelled at the last minute OR ended early, especially in the event of lightning or other dangers. We ask for your patience. Riders will be issued a credit for a no-ride in the event of rain. And remember: it may be raining in your part of town but not at our facility!
Do I Get Makeup Lessons?
Due to scheduling difficulties, no make up lessons are available for rain-outs, illness, vacations or other absences. but riders WILL get a credit for absences with proper notice.
What if I am a Veteran?
Veterans and family of active duty military are welcome. To inquire about scholarship opportunities, Contact Ms. Barbara Beard by email at Barbara@EnvisionTherapy.org
Can Family Members Ride a Horse?
We will make every effort to introduce a horse to family members, time permitting, but we prefer our special needs riders to have this activity as “their own”. However, our Family Support Program includes horsemanship, and for some families, riding opportunities for parents and siblings. This is designed for respite for caregivers, promotion of family unity, and sibling support. More information is offered on our Family Support page.
Feel free to contact us with any other questions that you may have:
How Can I Reserve a Place in a Class for the 2016-2017 Season?
Welcome! We are delighted you are interested in participating. Please complete the inquiry form on the Family Services Page to begin the enrollment process.
What are the procedures for signing up for Therapeutic Riding?
1. Please complete the Family Services interest form
2. You will receive a call to discuss your needs and our class openings.
2. Complete the rider application that we send to you.
3. Schedule an appointment.
What are the procedures for signing up for Equine Facilitated Learning?
Please complete the inquiry form on the Family Services Page to begin the enrollment process.
What are the procedures for finding out more about the Veterans Program?
Please complete the inquiry form on the Family Services Page to begin the enrollment process.