Program Retreat to the National Abilities Center

Today I am so excited to share with you an inspiring idea from Carrie Capes, the director of HorsePower TR: a program retreat to the National Abilities Center for whoever wants to come from your whole adaptive or therapeutic riding program! This is such a great way to foster community and bonding within your program, I love love love love it!!

What is the National Abilities Center?

The National Abilities Center (NAC) is an outdoor recreation and adventure program in Utah that is accessible to people of all abilities. Their activities include adaptive riding lessons and trail riding, equine assisted learning, biking, rafting, rock climbing, archery, and much more – all of which have been designed with inclusion as a first priority. They can work with you to design an adaptive experience tailored to your group’s interests, with on-site lodging and even conference spaces.

What is the Retreat?

Once a year (soon to be twice a year!), Carrie organizes a trip for whoever wants to come from her program, HorsePower TR, to the National Abilities Center in Utah for about a week of all-accessible recreational and team building activities such as adaptive horseback riding and trail riding, ropes course, rock climbing, and more!

Who Goes?

Carries opens it to everyone in the program – staff, volunteers, and participants and their families. Participants can even go without their family (on their own) if they have a chaperone, usually a staff or volunteer!

How Much Does It Cost?

So far, each person pays $400 + your own airfare. Participants that go with a chaperone pay $600, and the chaperone pays $200 (so the participants helps pay for the chaperone). Non-profits can apply for a scholarship with the NAC for a discounted package price.

What Do They Do?

Carrie determines the itinerary ahead of time. You can work with the NAC to customize your group’s activities according to what you want to do. Here are some things they have done!

Horseback riding, of course (the program is a PATH Intl. Premiere Center):

Biking and archery:


The ropes course:

Hiking and kayaking:

Here is the whole list of things the NAC offers, per their website:

They also have special programs just for veterans.

Why Do It?

Carrie says this shared adventure brings their group together. It creates buy-in for volunteers and shared experience for participants. Carrie says that participants gain confidence and belonging, when they get back they talk a little louder, are more outgoing, feel important that they got to attend, and wear their Horsepower blue all the time! They make new friends and even hang out after, which can be a huge blessing to kids who have a hard time finding friends. Every year when I see pictures on her Facebook page I think, what a great bonding activity and way to really bring together your program! (In fact, their photo is currently featured on the NAC adaptive trail riding webpage!)

For More Information

Here are some links for more information about doing this yourself:

The National Abilities Center main page

Work with them to create your own adventure

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed the inspiration or, as I do, living vicariously.

Do you do retreats with your program? What do you do? Leave a comment below!


Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement! If you would like to contribute an activity or article, please contact me here, I would love to hear from you!

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