The mission of Special Equestrians, Inc. is to provide high quality therapeutic horseback riding and equine assisted activities to persons with physical, mental, developmental, and emotional disabilities.
Special Equestrians, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that serves individuals with disabilities from Jefferson, Shelby and neighboring counties. Our instructors and occupational therapist are all nationally certified therapeutic riding instructors, and they work constantly to improve their levels of knowledge and performance so they can provide a stimulating environment to enrich the lives of our students. Our horses and equipment are carefully selected and our facilities maintained to provide a safe environment and to accommodate a wide range of disabilities. We hold Premier Accredited Status through PATH International, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship.
It takes over 200 volunteers to keep our program running. They are recruited from the general public, church organizations, high school and college service clubs and community assistance organizations. Each volunteer completes a training process that includes both classroom and hands-on training. They are then initially paired with experienced volunteers until they become familiar with guidelines and procedures. Positions include side-walking and horse-handling for the riders, administrative support, maintenance of the stable and grounds, and care and feeding of the horses.
Our success is reflected in the smiles on the faces of our riders each week. Regardless of their disabilities, they learn riding skills, play games on horseback, ride through woods and on trails, and with a gentle pull on the reins (not always easy for a person with Cerebral Palsy or Multiple Sclerosis), they can go wherever they like. All the while, those with physical disabilities are stimulating dormant muscles that make walking possible and stretching with hands that don't normally want to open, to reach for the reins. Individuals with emotional and mental disabilities find communication much less complicated with a horse. A kick makes them go, and a pull makes them stop. People who are hearing, vision, or speech impaired are not impaired on a horse. They are free to be themselves, and all because of this incredible animal.