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Program Descriptions


Therapeutic Riding
Our Program has been in existence since 1990. It is rare in its combination of physical therapy, cognitive therapy, outdoor recreational activity and social camaraderie.

The Program offers horseback riding lessons six days a week and follows individually tailored and reviewed lesson plans. The Program holds an annual “Riders Roundup” and BBQ for students to showcase their skills to friends and family and receive a ribbon. Students also compete in their own walk/jog class at each of the Equestrian Center’s western horse show series.

The Program serves northern Santa Barbara County residents with special needs including various mental, physical and emotional challenges such as Cerebral Palsy and Autism. Lessons are $175 for a 6-week session and scholarships are available. Families needing financial assistance are asked to complete an application.

Lessons are offered on full scholarship to local special education classes and other nonprofit organizations. We have programs with:

We also host field trips for special education classes and field days for Vandenberg Air Force Base families with special needs children and/or deployed parents. The schoolteachers that have been a part of this program all marvel at how their students’ blossom while at our program, with new-found confidence, enhanced communication, and better focus in the classroom afterwards.

Physical Therapy
The Santa Ynez Valley Therapeutic Riding Program is pleased to announce its newest program, Hippotherapy with Jennifer Rubio, Physical Therapist. While therapeutic horseback riding teaches specific riding skills, Hippotherapy is physical, occupational, and/or speech therapy using a horse as a dynamic base of support.

According to the American Hippotherapy Association: Hippotherapy is a physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes. Equine movement provides multidimensional movement, which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. The horse provides a dynamic base of support, making it an excellent tool for increasing trunk strength and control, balance, building overall postural strength and endurance, addressing weight bearing, and motor planning. Equine movement offers well-modulated sensory input to vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile and visual channels. During gait transitions, the patient must perform subtle adjustments in the trunk to maintain a stable position. When a patient is sitting forward astride the horse, the horse’s walking gait imparts movement responses remarkably similar to normal human gait. The effects of equine movement on postural control, sensory systems, and motor planning can be used to facilitate coordination and timing, grading of responses, respiratory control, sensory integration skills and attentional skills. Equine movement can be used to facilitate the neurophysiologic systems that support all of our functional daily living skills.

The physical therapist can overlay a variety of motor tasks on the horse’s movement to address the motor needs of each patient and to promote functional outcomes in skill areas related to gross motor ability such as sitting, standing, and walking.

485865_272951589482558_1703935677_nHELP Program
The Horse Enlightened Learning and Psychotherapy (HELP) program involves eight adolescents per session from the Los Prietos Boys Camp focusing on issues of self-esteem, anger management, self-confidence, empathy, anxiety, depression, communication and social skills. The boys earn skill cards each week. 90 boys attend annually. The weekly class has a specific curriculum facilitated by licensed psychologist,     Dr. Margaret Wilkinson, working with a certified horse professional. The mental health program utilizes a herd of horses in the arena where students are asked to do various exercises with the horses, sometimes without the use of halters or ropes, using only body language. The clients then process their experience with the psychologist in order to understand their own behavior and feelings.

Staff at the Camp have been impressed by the way that boys from rival gangs work together and are at ease with themselves at our program. The boys do chores and help in our therapeutic riding lessons in exchange for the sessions. Attendance to our program is earned at Camp. The classes rotate weekly between horsemanship and mental health. All of the boys do chores and help sidewalk in exchange for the free sessions.

We offer corporate and nonprofit team building “Brown Bag Lunches” to help fund our HELP program. Please contact Robin at (805) 325-1544 for more information.