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Mary Ann Evans, Ph.D.

Mary Ann Evans, Ph.D.

Founder and Board Member Emeritus



The Santa Ynez Valley Therapeutic Riding Program is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1990 by Mary Ann Evans, PhD.  For the first 10 years, the organization was called “4H Hearts” as we were operated by the UC 4H extension program.  The program operated in Mary Ann’s backyard with one horse.  In 2000, we formed a separate 501c3 as the extension program dissolved and moved to our leased location at the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Association Center.


We are a Premier Accredited Center with PATH International, the highest international rating.  Our motto is "Walk. Trot. Heal." and we get to be part of healing people through the joy of horses daily.  The Program serves 60 students each week and 300 unduplicated people annually.  The Program has 11 Board Members, 18 Advisory Board Members and 9 employees.  We benefit from over 11,500 hours annually.


PATH international audits our center every 5 years, certifies instructors and provides guidance and continuing education on best practices in the industry.



We serve children and adults with special needs.  Our students/clients are:  14% from Santa Maria, 48% Lompoc, 2% Santa Barbara and 36% the Santa Ynez Valley.  In 2019, we served 142 unduplicated people at our program and averaged 60 students per week.  We also served 315 people in our Travels with Teacup program.  40% are under 18 years of age and 50% of our students/clients are low-moderate income.  58% are Caucasian, 36% Hispanic and 6% are other ethnicities.


We offer two Programs:  Therapeutic Riding & HELP.  HELP is our mental health program and must use a certified PATH Equine Specialist in addition to a licensed mental health professional.  All Therapeutic Riding sessions must use a PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding sessions must use a PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor.


We Provide: (partner organizations)

  • Individual and group therapeutic riding lessons to children and adults with special needs.

  • Solvang School’s Special Education weekly therapeutic riding lessons.

  • United Cerebral Palsy Applied Abilities weekly therapeutic riding lessons.

  • Hidden Wings’s special horsemanship class.

  • County-wide special education and at-risk classes 8-week therapeutic riding session.

  • Vandenberg Space Force Base Field Days for special needs children.

  • Camps for all Valley kids in partnership with Solvang Parks & Recreation.

  • Travels with Teacup - we bring our miniature horse to  your organization.

  • CALM Summer Camp with Dr. Claydon for abused children.

  • Foster Youth Camp.

  • United Way Summer Camp.

  • Elks Rodeo Golden Circle Camp for children with cancer - NEW

  • Horse Powered Reading Program & Camps - NEW

  • Annual Rider’s Roundup

"To ride on a horse is to fly without wings."

- Anonymous

Our Mission

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide quality equine-assisted activities to children and adults with physical, cognitive, social, emotional and or other life challenges, regardless of their ability to pay.

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The Santa Ynez Valley Therapeutic Riding Program is a 501(c)(3) organization

founded in 1990 by  Mary Ann Evans, Ph.D. 

We are a Premier Accredited Center with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH), the highest national rating. 

We offer therapeutic riding, school and group programs, and a mental health program. 

The Program currently serves 70 students each week and over 300 annually.

We Need Your Support Today!

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