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Starting a Therapeutic Riding Program

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  • Starting a Therapeutic Riding Program

    I beg forgiveness if this is not the correct forum to discuss this!
    I work with disabled/disadvantaged students at a Community College. I interpret for the deaf and deaf/blind. I would like to turn my boarding facility into a place for disabled people to ride and enjoy horses. Does anyone know where I can find information to help me get started on a Therapeutic riding program? Any help would be greatly appreciated! The local Easter Seals is interested but I need to have everything set up. I need to know what “everything” includes (insurance, etc.)!
    Thank you,
    Melinda

  • #2
    Much depends upon what you really want to do, who you want to serve and to what extent you want to do it.

    Some questions to ask yourself:

    1. Do you intend to do this full time? Will you give up your "day job" to this?

    2. Are your horses suitable? Have you evaluated them at length and exposed them to people with special needs?

    3. You mention that you work with a segment of the special needs community. What is your experience with others?

    4. How financially able are you to support the facility in the absence of donations or while you are building your client base.

    5. Have you thought of fees, what your expenses are, what they will be when adding in adaptive equipment and modifications to your facility (if needed).

    6. Contact your current insurance agent to talk about added requirements.

    7. Do you have a good pool of volunteers?

    8. Are you prepared to be challenged, frustrated, overwhelmed and overjoyed all at the same time?

    There is nothing in my life I can imagine doing now. Over the years I learned what works and what doesn't. And that people with disabilities deserve more than a "pony ride". I have learned that each person who comes to our farm is going to be unique and that they deserve to be treated that way, not confined to some pre-conceived set of "norms" established by their needs.

    Definitely contact NARHA, but I highly suggest you volunteer with a local center for a few months if you aren't already. Better yet...volunteer with a few if you can. We are ALL different! Don't judge based on NARHA certification either. For all three of us to be certified as instructors would run over $5k by the time we got done with trainings etc. That is money we feel is MUCH better spent on our riders and improvements. That said, we will have one instructor in training this year and be a member center in 2010. Regardless of membership we do follow NARHA standards for our program.

    GOOD LUCK!!!!! It is so worth it!
    I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

    Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Some questions to ask yourself:

      1. Do you intend to do this full time? Will you give up your "day job" to this?
      Yes, I plan to give up my “day job” eventually. I can’t just now until I get things going.

      2. Are your horses suitable? Have you evaluated them at length and exposed them to people with special needs?
      See, this is the things that I needed to know! I needed to know how and where I have them evaluated.

      3. You mention that you work with a segment of the special needs community. What is your experience with others?
      I have worked for twenty years with hearing impaired and deaf/blind elementary, high school, and college students. A large percent of these students have deafness or blindness that accompanies some other disability (cognitive, mobility, congenital, etc.). However, not all of my experience is centered on deaf/blind.

      4. How financially able are you to support the facility in the absence of donations or while you are building your client base.
      I am working on that also.

      5. Have you thought of fees, what your expenses are, what they will be when adding in adaptive equipment and modifications to your facility (if needed).
      No, see that is another thing that I need to do.

      6. Contact your current insurance agent to talk about added requirements.
      I have already have insurance for my stable. I have contacted my agent to inquire about the difference in fees.

      7. Do you have a good pool of volunteers?
      Yes. I do have that!

      8. Are you prepared to be challenged, frustrated, overwhelmed and overjoyed all at the same time?
      Absolutely!
      There is not a local center in my area. That is why I want to start one.

      Thank you Equineartworks! You have helped me close some gaps in my plan. Do you have any more thoughts?
      Melinda

      Comment


      • #4
        You are most welcome Melinda.

        I think the biggest thing to remember is that sometimes it isn't going to all sunshine and roses. You know that already because you work in a CHS setting. Sometimes it is downright hard

        The other thing is that it is ok to start small and work up as you go. There seems to be this notion anymore that you need to go out and file for 501c3 status, line up a BOD full of figure heads and throw yourself at the mercy of every CHS agency in town before you open your doors. I wonder what people are thinking? They haven't even do a lesson or have a single client and they have already dumped $3k on paperwork? The fact is, if you do it right your revenues (yes revenues! lol!) will cover the bulk of your expenses. If they don't, you are putting more into it than you should. Lesson barns don't run $40k a year in the red and neither should you, nor should potential donors be expected to cover that. If a program gets too far in the hole, it is usually a management issue. You need to run a TIGHT ship! lol!

        I have been part of non-profit and for profit programs, funny thing is...the for profit did make money. Quite a bit in fact, and the non-profit wallowed. You wont get rich...no way, but you should be able to pay your day to day expenses for the program. It is all in the management.

        The moral to the story? Remember that it is a business. Luckily I have been self-employed and a small business owner for more than 25 years. I also have ClassicSportHorses here on COTH who gave me the cyber smack up side the head a couple of weeks ago and told me not to forget the above advice.

        This year our budget is initially projected at $65,000.That is for 4 sessions annually plus two complimentary programs including a Sensory Trail. We expect to serve 40-50 new riders this year (10 per 10 week session) and upwards of 100 families for the complimentary programs. The bulk of our program expenses are, of course, the riding.
        Last edited by equineartworks; Nov. 10, 2009, 07:01 AM. Reason: edit for budget
        I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

        Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

        Comment


        • #5
          Good Luck ~ I have voluteered in some wonderful therapeutic riding programs for years ~ highly recommend these programs !
          Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

          Comment


          • #6
            The one problem with trying to run a therapeutic program like a business is that the people who most need the service are generally the very ones who cannot afford the services.

            I worked for years with a therapeutic group. I was told by the person who started the program that NARHA was not very good when it came to really working with individual centers. We were affiliated with the county 4-H program and were non-profit.

            There were constant fund raisers and conversations going on with companies and groups that would sponsor the riders in our program and donate money so we could buy supplies. I don't recall ever being in the hole.

            I know they have a trail ride every year, stands at a couple of the local fairs to sell food, a riding club donates the profits of one of their shows to the group, and there's a huge auction of donated items held--this goes on every year, like clockwork! It takes a lot of work and determination to run a therapeutic program. I don't know if anyone was writing grants but if they didn't they should have been....

            Times are a lot tougher now than they've been in the past--this economy stinks. Make sure you have the community behind you before you start....
            Last edited by Cherry; Mar. 9, 2010, 12:47 AM.
            "I'm not much into conspiracy theories but if everyone thinks alike you don't need a plot!" ~person from another bulletin board whose name has been long forgotten~

            Comment


            • #7
              If you are in Columbus Ohio, I would suggest contacting Fieldstone Farm outside Cleveland, and if possible spending a day up there. They are very large now, but weren't always. If you want more info on them, send me a pm. I can also give you another name to contact. Will be out of town a few days, so be patient on the reply!
              We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

              Comment

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