Therapeutic Riding

Learn more about our programs by watching this video made possible by The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, Bill Villafranco, and Big Pup Productions.

What is Therapeutic Riding?

Therapeutic Riding involves horseback riding tailored to yield therapeutic benefits for the rider. Our PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors develop lesson plans filled with engaging activities that promote physical, social, and emotional benefits while teaching horsemanship skills to participants.

Interchangeable terms are Equine Therapeutic Riding and Therapeutic Horseback Riding.

What are the benefits of Therapeutic Riding?

Therapeutic Riding helps promote improvements in:

Posture: Horseback riding encourages core strength and stability
Balance: While riding, stabilizing muscles that promote balance throughout the body are engaged. Horses can feel small movements in the saddle so participants can gain awareness of their balance through riding.
Coordination: Participants can gain coordination by guiding the horse, completing activities, and multi-tasking.
Mental Focus: Riding a horse while performing activities allows the rider to gain confidence and independence achieved through focus
Muscle Fitness: Riding is a physical activity that engages many muscles throughout the body that may not be used in daily routines. By engaging these muscles, riders can gain strength.
Communication: Horses listen to commands such as “walk-on” or “whoa”. Riders can learn to speak clearly, ask for assistance, and learn praise through riding. Even non-verbal participants can learn new ways to communicate commands through actions.
Sensory Acceptance: A barn is full of sensory engagement. Riders can experience new sights, sounds, smells, feelings, and more by spending time on a horse.
Fine and Gross Motor Skills: Riding a horse is considered an art form. It combines both fine and gross motor skills to communicate with the horse. From sitting tall in the saddle to go and squeezing hands closed to stop, the motor skills utilized while riding can improve daily lives of participants.

How does Therapeutic Riding help a participant?

Therapeutic Riding uses the horse’s natural gait to mimic movements of a person walking that engages neurological stimulation. Through the movement of a horse, riders receive physical and sensory stimulation as well, helping overcome limitations traditional daily activities may not help.

Who is eligible for the Therapeutic Riding Program?

Our Therapeutic Riding Program is offered to individuals with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities. Riders must be at least four years of age for enrollment. We are able to accommodate riders that require extra assistance mounting their equine partner through the use of our lift.

Our team assesses each applicant’s needs against PATH Intl. guidelines to ensure the best care and suitability for our program. While we currently serve over 50 disabilities, there are standardized precautions and contraindications set forth by guidelines of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.). In some instances, we cannot accept a rider based upon these guidelines.

How does someone apply to ride in the Therapeutic Riding Program?

Applying for our Therapeutic Riding Program is possible by visiting “I Want to Ride” on our website menu or by clicking the ‘Apply’ button below.

Apply to Ride

When and where does the Therapeutic Riding Program take place?

To accommodate more riders and eliminate waitlists, we organize our program into 8-week sessions. Riders will be assigned to a group that will have a specific date range, day of the week, and time for riding.

Lessons take place in our covered arenas, the main and round. However, our facility has dedicated areas where participants may also ride outside, such as the bridle path and sensory trail!

Sessions of Therapeutic Riding are referred to as Lessons. Lessons are scheduled daily, except for each Friday and Sunday.

Our campus is located at 206 Ridge Drive Naples, Florida 34108.

What should be expected at a Therapeutic Riding Lesson?

Therapeutic Riding Lessons are a collaborative effort between our PATH Intl. Certified Instructors, well-trained staff, and dedicated volunteer force. Participants are encouraged to arrive to their lesson time 10 minutes early for helmet fitting, warm-up, and headcount.

Riding participants will be greeted by our Instructor and assigned volunteer sidewalker. The sidewalker will support the rider to the top of the ramp where they will mount their horse and meet their off-side sidewalker. Volunteers and the instructors will guide the participant comfortably on the horses back. The horse will be led into the arena, by the leader, where stirrups will be adjusted for fit. Riders will then participate in a 45-minute lesson that is planned by instructors. At the completion of the lesson, riders will be supported through the dismount and accompanied back to the arena waiting area.

Who instructs the Therapeutic Riding Lesson?

All lessons are lead by our experienced team of PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding instructors. All instructors are required to complete continuing education and trainings to provide the best service to both participants and their equine partners. All instructors perform evaluations, assessments, and create individualized lesson programs for therapeutic riders.

Does weather affect lessons?

When the heat index is over 100 degrees, lessons will be canceled due to the effect the heat and humidity has on the horses, riders and volunteers. When the wind chill is 45 degrees or lower, lessons will be canceled. If there is lightning or a strong threat of lightning, lessons will be canceled. Cancellations will be affirmed by the Program Director to Participants and Volunteers.

How do I learn more?

Naples Therapeutic Riding Center focuses on helping individuals feel supported. If you need assistance and want to learn more about our programs, please contact us at or (239)596-2988.

How can I help with the Therapeutic Riding Program?

You can make an impact by volunteering in the Therapeutic Riding Program. At the top of our webpage visit the Volunteer menu and select “I Want to Volunteer” to learn more.

Another way to make a difference is by Sponsoring a Rider. Naples Therapeutic Riding Center’s core value of Access is to provide and promote opportunities in equine therapeutic programs to children and adults with special needs regardless of the ability to pay.  Special needs often place financial demands on the families we serve. By Sponsoring a Rider, you can help provide scholarship opportunities for these families. By clicking the button below, you will be taken to a page where you can learn more and make donations.

Sponsor a Participant