Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center Serving all individuals with unique abilities and health needs

Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic riding, also known as Equine-Assisted Therapy, Equine-Facilitated Therapy, or Riding for the Disabled, is the use of the horse and equine-based activities to reach the specific objectives of our special needs population.

The horse becomes partner and therapeutic tool in achieving a variety of goals that are cognitive, physical, social, educational and behavioral.

Our PATH-certified instructors motivate our riders utilizing the barn experience and the joy of the horse/human connection. The combination of grounded horsemanship skills and mounted riding lessons creates a challenge that inspires confidence, encourages independence and builds trust.  Sessions are 30-50 minutes and can be scheduled for once a week or bi-weekly.

Goals for riders may include increasing physical abilities, developing  behavioral and communication skills, improving critical thinking skills and enhancing emotional well-being. All of our riders have plans that are tailored to their specific needs and desired objectives.

At Ivy Hill, we have a passion for training riders in sportsmanship and equitation, and believe in the benefit of learning life lessons with the help of a little horsepower.

Our Programs Focus on Client Needs and Goals

The Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies we have created reach to families that have children with cancer, families that have loved ones with severe physical disabilities and co-morbidities, mothers and children healing from the trauma of domestic violence, teens and young adults who deal with social isolation, mental illness, addiction, and behavioral challenges, senior citizens trapped by physical and cognitive frailty and isolation - these are the members of the Ivy Hill family.

Kids Rein - An early intervention program for ages 3-5 focusing on goals and outcomes. The purpose of Equine Assisted Preschool Program is to provide services to preschool-aged children that will develop and reinforce fine and gross motor skills, vocabulary (verbal and non-verbal communication) early literacy, integration of the tactile system and temporary separation from parents.

Therapeutic Community Based Instruction Retreats - These are single sessions, non-mounted, group activities.  They will be offered on assigned days as scheduled with the Program Manager and partnering organization.  Activities vary according to request and need.  For example, Senior Therapeutic Retreats provide services to senior citizens.  These activities promote wellness, social interaction and education.  These are specially designed for aging adults, particularly adults diagnosed with the following: Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias, Autism, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, and other physical or mental challenges. This program is great for the following types of groups and organizations: Adult Day Service Centers, Community Centers, Senior Care Facilities, Health and Rehab Facilities and Church Groups.

The David Program - A life skills mentoring program to train the skills required for retail and customer service occupations. It may also include equine related activates that may include work re-entry, or vocational exploration.  Participants are young adults or adults.  Ivy Hill partners with schools and organizations to provide these services on a limited basis during the day.

Trail with a Twist – A sensory trail for all ages and with appropriate diagnosis.  A sensory riding trail is a rich learning environment of woodland paths that consist of slopes, turns, varied footing, natural sights and sounds, and man-made "activity stations." This integrated environment challenges the students' balance, stimulates their senses and encourages them to interact with the world around them. Activity stations are themed stopping points along the trail that offer students the opportunity to see, hear, smell, touch and talk about the items they encounter.

Silver Reins and Golden Saddles – Focuses on the physical, social and cognitive benefits for seniors, age 50 and up.  When working around horses the elderly can overcome anxiety and depression, work on building self-confidence and non-verbal communication, decrease a sense of isolation, and empower themselves to take on other challenges in their lives. Seniors may learn how to groom, halter, feed, lead the horse, and even ride. The mounted riding lessons focus on partnership with the horse through the use of classical dressage principles, the art of riding in harmony with, rather than against, the horse, which increases students’ range of motion, endurance, and core strength.  

Pieces of Freedom - Specifically designed for the Autistic rider.  Pieces of freedom helps riders walk, talk, connect, focus, behave and learn - inspiring each one to live life as fully, productively and independently as possible.  The program focuses on activities designed to improve communications skills and social interaction, sensory integration, and behavior modification.

Open Hearts, Endless Hope - Designed for participants with cancer, focusing on stress reduction, comfort, and relief from clinical surroundings.   Therapeutic riding uses the movement of the horse to help the participant improve strength, balance, coordination, sensory processing, and improved overall function. Many individuals undergoing cancer treatment are dealing with fear, anger, grief, and many other emotions that may be blocking their recovery.

Are you a volunteer or sibling of a therapeutic rider who may wish to take lessons?  Please click here for a registration form. 


Below is a thank you from a parent who's 5 adopted children participate in our Therapeutic Riding Program.  We did a hybrid program between Equine Assisted Activities and Mane Force.   All the children participated in 5 ground work sessions learning about behavior, social cues, and how to conduct themselves in groups.  The main goal was to promote team work and character building among the "siblings". 

I just wanted to touch base with you about my children’s riding lessons.  The kids are really enjoying their time at Ivy Hill and your staff is so wonderful! I have been very impressed. My children are getting along much better. Your horses really do heal. Thank you all for all the hard work you do!   ~~Michelle Heaney~~

Become part of the equation: Horses + Love = Hope.