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Therapeutic horseback riding is recognized throughout the U.S. and other countries as a valuable activity to improve the lives of people with disabilities, or, as we prefer to say, people facing special challenges. Almost 800 therapeutic riding centers in the U.S. and Canada are members of PATH International, an organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapy. Other centers are located in many other countries.  HOPE has been offering EAAT sessions since 1986.

What is EAAT?

Equine-assisted activities and therapy are activities with equine friends designed specifically to benefit people with special challenges. HOPE’s instructors are trained not only for their horsemanship skills but also for their knowledge of disabilities and how to design sessions which specifically benefit each student’s special challenges. At HOPE, we take a broad view of “special challenges” as including not only recognized physical, emotional and cognitive challenges but also social challenges such as difficulties with social skills, sadness from family trauma such as divorce, or a challenging background such as children learning to be happy in foster homes after losing parents.

A Partial List of Special Challenges Served by HOPE:

  • Down Syndrome
  • Spina Bifida
  • Learning Disorders
  • Autism
  • Selective mutism
  • Encephalopathy
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Speech and vision impairments
  • Sensory deprivation
  • Impaired movement due to injuries
  • Stroke
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Brain Injuries
  • Amputations
  • Sexual/physical/emotional abuse victims
  • Depression and other mental health conditions
  • Emotional difficulties caused by events or situations in the student’s life

Please click here for more information on EAAT at the PATH International web site.

Benefits of EAAT?

EAAT sessions offer fun, healthy physical activity and also provide more benefits. A horse’s movement mimics the human’s walk, jog and run, allowing riders who can’t walk or walk with difficulty to feel that movement and improve muscle tone, flexibility and balance. Sessions build cognitive awareness, teaching new ways of thinking, feeling, reacting. Interaction with equine friends improves patience and self-esteem and gives students a feeling of independence, perhaps for the first time. Caring for the horses helps students learn responsibility. Working with the team of horses, volunteers and staff helps teach the importance of teamwork.

  • Confidence, self-control and self-esteem
  • Balance, posture, coordination
  • Patience
  • Responsibility
  • Flexibility and joint mobility
  • Range of motion
  • Cardiovascular functioning and stamina
  • Gross and fine motor skills
  • Muscle strength
  • Social skills, positive social interactions and teamwork
  • Empathy
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Language skills
  • Courage
  • Understanding of consequences, and cause/effect
  • Experience of success in a supportive environment

The following links are excellent references about the benefits of EAAT.

Hope Therapeutic Riding Center

Established in 1986, HOPE is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is:

to empower children and adults facing special challenges – whether physical, cognitive or emotional – to discover their abilities, independent skills and explore their potential through use of our nationally accredited safe and effective equine-assisted activities and therapy.”

HOPE provides a positive, safe environment allowing students to enjoy their experiences while learning a sense of self-confidence that will help shape the rest of their lives. 

“Discover Your Abilities . . . Grab the Reins of Life!”

Click here to view calendar


If you wish to help empower children and adults facing special challenges, please click the donate button below. Support HOPE in providing a positive environment for students to gain a sense of self-confidence that will shape the rest of their lives - your donation is greatly appreciated.























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