Since 1986, Special Equestrians has provided therapeutic horseback riding for individuals with physical, mental, developmental, and behavioral disabilities. Our program began at Oak Mountain State Park with a few volunteers and borrowed horses. In 1993, we moved to our current location on the campus of Indian Springs School. We are now able to serve over 95 children and adults with our 10 horses and more than 200 volunteers. Our covered arena enables us to hold classes even during rainy weather. WHAT IS SPECIAL EQUESTRIANS? 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. In accomplishing our mission, the goal is to increase the independence and quality of life for our riders. We do this through a variety of methods. Instructors, therapists, and volunteers work to provide a fun and stimulating environment to enrich the lives of these riders. Our horses, facilities, and equipment are carefully selected to provide a safe environment and to accommodate a wide range of disabilities. Special Equestrians has passed stringent safety standards to be recognized as a Premier Accredited Center through the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA). WHY THE HORSE? On horseback, individuals with disabilities often experience the freedom of motion their body denies them. The horse provides a hip action that is almost identical to humans. This motion provides physical benefits such as stimulating dormant nerves and muscles, increasing strength, stimulating vocal chords. Relaxation occurs from the warmth of the horses body reducing rigidity or spasticity. Emotional and psychological benefits include an increase in confidence and self-esteem through learning to master the horse. Interacting with and controlling the horse enhances focus, decision-making skills, and effective verbal and nonverbal communication (especially empowering to the speech impaired). WHO CAN PARTICIPATE? Any person age 2 or older with a physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disability is eligible to be evaluated for our program. Riders must provide a physician’s statement and be approved by our Director, Instructor, and Therapist.