Fire Horse Farm's therapeutic horseback riding program serves a broad
range of people. Students of all ages benefit from FHF's programs.
Cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, mental retardation, abuse, hearing and visual impairment, traumatic brain injuries, strokes, and learning
disabilities, are a few of the disabilities people may have who participate in our programs. Generally, students become aware of Fire Horse Farm
through word of mouth, media coverage, or referrals from teachers, therapists or physicians. There is a class fee of $25.00 for our therapeutic riding
services; however, NO STUDENT IS DECLINED BECAUSE OF INABILITY TO PAY.
Donations from local businesses, civic groups, and foundations provide the support necessary for our students to participate. Approximately 70% of
students rely on scholarship assistance.
Fire Horse Farm currently operates with one part-time volunteer instructor, one
volunteer instructor in training, more than twenty volunteers, and 4 horses. Instructors are trained and certified through the North American Riding for
the Handicapped Association (NARHA), the national organization which sets high safety standards for therapeutic riding instructors and facilities.
Instructors must maintain annual CPR and First Aid certification and are required to receive at least 20 continuing education hours each year in therapeutic
riding and/or teaching fields. Volunteers are a necessity to Fire Horse Farm. They assist instructors during classes, groom and saddle horses, clean equipment,
and help with facility maintenance. Volunteers are trained extensively to ensure they feel comfortable working with horses, and people with disabilities. For the
safety of students, volunteers, staff, and horses receive intensive training before becoming a part of the Fire Horse Farm team. Continuous, ongoing training of
all horses is required throughout their years of service.
Upon a physician's approval for equestrian activities, a progressive lesson plan is
designed for each qualifying student. The plan is implemented through weekly classes by a NARHA certified therapeutic riding instructor. Therapeutic
riding classes range from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the student's age and capabilities. Emphasis is placed on providing a safe, educational, and
physically beneficial riding lesson that challenges and motivates each student, regardless of his/her disability. Weekly lesson plans document changes
and improvements in the student's physical, mental and/or social condition.
The merits of physical exercise for a human body are indisputable. People with disabilities,
however, are often excluded from the very activities that would benefit them most. Horseback riding is a form of exercise ideally suited for individuals with disabilities.
While sitting on the back of a walking horse, a student's upper and lower muscles and joints are exercised, exactly as if they were walking. Moreover, spasticity is
decreased, balance and coordination is challenged, range of motion is enhanced, and strength and endurance improve. These benefits occur regardless of the student's
The psychological benefits of therapeutic riding are an important element of our program,
and enhance the physical benefits students receive. Learning to control a 1100 pound animal builds self-confidence, promotes independence, and students are
proud of their accomplishments. This psychological boost is a vital part of our program whether the student is a young child with Down Syndrome, a troubled teen,
or an elderly person challenged with the effects of a stroke. Riding also contributes to other improvements in their daily lives. Many students express feeling a
sense of freedom when they ride. Furthermore the bond between rider and horse is instrumental in breaking through the barriers of distrust and fear with students,
who have suffered from abuse.
EDUCATIONAL & SOCIAL BENEFITS
Educational skills such as learning the alphabet, colors, word association, sequential thinking,
appropriate behavioral issues, etc. are incorporated into the therapeutic riding classes, based on the students' needs. Therapeutic riding helps broaden the
attention span of children with disabilities by encouraging them to focus on an activity, which is both fun and educational. Horseback riding offers immediate
rewards and positive re-enforcement for our students who often struggle to succeed in traŹditional classroom settings.
Most students have individual class times, however, small group classes promote cooperation, teamwork and social interaction. Horseback riding teaches new
skills, provides an opportunity to make new friends and is a fun experience with a positive purpose.
Therapeutic riding is the foundation of Fire Horse Farm.. For example, students learn not only
how to groom, saddle and ride a horse, but also experience personal growth, and the necessary self-motivation to reach beyond the limits of their disability. Family
members of students benefit by seeing their loved one, who faces life with a disability, participate in a recreational activity without prejudice or ridicule.
Volunteers receive a rewarding sense of satisfaction from helping students attain new goals and reach higher levels of achievement. Many volunteers and students
also enjoy learning new skills such as sign language, horse health care and nutrition.
For consideration for your special someone, please go to our