Children and adults, ages 4 and older with and without special needs, enjoy the many benefits of the therapeutic horsemanship program tailored to their physical, mental and emotional strengths and capabilities.
Our therapeutic horsemanship program includes:
Horseback riding lessons that teach basic horseback riding and horse handling skills. Physical exercises and educational activities are woven into the riding lesson making it therapeutic for the riders.
Ground lessons provide opportunities to interact and bond with horses by participating in grooming, feeding, and being hands-on with the horse. It fosters curiosity, responsibility, and compassion.
Ground activities may include fun horse-themed arts and crafts projects and activities to teach campers about horses.
Our Therapeutic Horsemanship Program serves individual groups and local schools in the Cleveland area, and recreational activities for campers during the summer months.
Benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding for Children with Disabilities
Balance, posture, strength
Emotional control, self-discipline
Sense of normality
Remedial math and reading skills
Advanced equestrian skills
Camp Cheerful’s Therapeutic Horsemanship Program is certified as a Premier Accredited Center Program by The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.). Camp Cheerful’s Therapeutic Horsemanship Program is one of only twelve such accredited centers in Ohio that provides quality professional equine-assisted activities while meeting established industry standards. All of Camp Cheerful’s Therapeutic Horsemanship instructors are certified and registered by PATH.
2018 Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program:
All sessions are 10 weeks The cost is $350 per session.
Riding and horsemanship classes are available for riders with and without disabilities.
Class offerings include morning, evening and Saturday options based on availability and rider ability, which will be determined after the application and intake process has been completed.
Classes are 1 hour per week for 10 weeks with an average of 5 riders in each class.
Our caring and dedicated volunteers, ages 14 and over, walk alongside riders during lessons, lead horses or help with barn-related tasks. No experience is required – we provide training for new volunteers, and on-going learning opportunities.
The Achievement Centers’ Camp Cheerful maintains an average of nine horses and accepts new donations on an as-needed basis. If we feel your horse is a candidate, we will schedule a visit to your home or stable to evaluate your horse both medically and under saddle. We can also answer any questions you might have about our horse donation procedures. All of our horses undergo a standard 30-day trial period. Horse donations are tax-deductible.
For safety reasons, all riders are required to wear long pants, closed-toe shoes with a heel and a riding helmet. Helmets are available for riders to borrow from the barn or may be purchased at a local tack shop.
The current program weight limit is 180 lbs for independent riders and 60 lbs for riders who cannot sit up on their own. This standard is based on PATH International policies pertaining to the safety of the rider, horse, instructor and volunteers. Periodic evaluations will be made throughout the year to assess the rider’s weight, ability, balance, behavior, etc. to insure that therapeutic riding is safe and beneficial. This evaluation may include a weigh-in on our scale and/or an assessment on our stretching barrel.
It has been our experience that most riders stay more attentive and focused when the parent is not interacting with the rider during their lesson. For this reason, we ask that parents watch their rider from the observation room in the barn. Our goal for lessons is that the instructor always has the correct ratio of volunteer help for each lesson. In the interest of safety, if the instructor is short on volunteer help, she may ask if you are willing to sidewalk (tennis shoes or boots may be borrowed in the barn). If we are unable to conduct the lesson with ratios that meet the instructor’s requirements, a ground lesson will be substituted. While the riders are participating in mounted riding lessons, we ask that parents refrain from talking, waving, coaching and distracting the rider from the area that they are auditing the lesson.
A ground lesson allows the riders to explore a whole new world with their horse. This is an opportunity to interact and bond with the horse by participating in grooming, feeding, and being hands-on with their horse in animated ground activities. It fosters curiosity, responsibity and compassion. Ground lessons will be conducted at the instructor’s discretion and in the event mounted lessons are not able to be conducted due to weather conditions.
There could be several answers. We may have changed the rider’s horse. If it is an older, experienced horse which knows his job well, we can lighten up on volunteer support. If it is a new horse to the rider, we want to be sure they are comforted by support staff nearby. If it is a less experienced horse, we want to have support in place for horse and rider. If the activity planned for the day is more challenging, we may add support staff. We also train new volunteers side-by-side with experienced volunteers, so you may see extra “hands” that day.
Horseback riding, like any other sport activity, is a series of skills which become increasingly challenging as they are perfected, and build on each other for technique and confidence. Our instructors have a skills encyclopedia which they use to build lesson plans for each student. Repetition builds learning and confidence. It helps in learning discipline, sequencing and decision-making. As riders advance, these skills become second nature as they seek more challenging pursuits. Repetition allows the instructor to evaluate growth in each skill area throughout a session, and looks for consistency.
Sometimes a horse needs a rest due to an unexpected injury. Sometimes a horse is retired or removed from the program. As the skill level of a rider increases, we often give them a more challenging horse to ride. It is also a goal of the program to have each rider learn to ride more than one horse in a lesson. This is important in case of an unexpected change, and is vitally important to building trust and confidence as part of the rider’s skills. We try to talk to parents and riders beforehand, but it is not always possible. If you have a concern, please speak with the instructor.
In the initial evaluation, decisions are made for horse and equipment (tack). Instructors watch carefully to see that posture, balance, and comfort are supported by the choice of equipment. To enhance skill development, specialized equipment may be used, and changed to watch for desired progress. As the rider progresses, more challenging equipment may be used to foster strength and confidence.
As soon as you are aware that the rider will not be attending class, please call 440-238-6200 ext. 255 and leave a message including: name, date, time of class and reason for absence. Please call as soon as you are aware the rider will be absent or at least 2 hours prior to class start time. Cancellations made less than 2 hours prior are not eligible for a make-up session.
Achievement Centers for Children is an authorized licensee of the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District. Inquiries regarding the cooperative relationship may be directed to the Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland Metroparks, 4101 Fulton Parkway, Cleveland, Ohio 44144; 216-635-3200.