Hi! My name is Cindy, thank you for visiting!
About This Blog
In 2011 I began the journey to become a PATH Registered Level Therapeutic Horseback Riding Instructor (now called Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor or CTRI) and got certified in 2012. On this journey I discovered there is a lack of resources on the internet for lesson plans, riding adaptations, games and patterns for therapeutic riding. As someone who learns a lot through other peoples’ experiences and online research – and since I obsessively write down things I learn and do anyway – in February of 2012 I decided to start this blog to compile what I find helpful and interesting and to share it with others. Or as my friend put it, “Saving riders everywhere from boring lessons!” Whether you are an experienced instructor or an instructor in training, my hope is that this resource helps you with your own journey as we all try to become better instructors!
I would love for this blog to be full of resources from everyone, not just me! If you have a lesson plan, pattern, or game you think would be a helpful resource, send it to me along with permission or not to include your name and website. If you have a quick idea or comment that relates to a previous blog post, please include it in the comments section for that post so readers can get even more ideas!
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!
This is a personal blog. Although it is intended as a resource for PATH Intl Instructors, I am not a spokesperson for PATH Intl.
I have chosen to use the term “therapeutic riding” throughout this blog because that’s what PATH Intl. calls it, and I think it’s the terminology people will use most when searching for this type of information on the internet. However, there are some great discussions going about whether to use the word therapeutic, adapted, equine assisted, etc. to describe what we do. For more about that, see the Terminology post.
This is a free resource because we are all in this together to help our riders. I have ads because it supports having a domain name so folks can find this blog easier. I also get paid commission for links to Amazon books I recommend, but I only mention books if I really like them.
This blog has been featured in:
- PATH Intl’s STRIDES Magazine Winter 2015, Vol.21 No.1, The Candy Cane Game was printed on p.49
- Horses Helping People Facebook page
- Speech Language Hippotherapy
- Extraordinary Horses
- They Took Up Therapeutic Reins
This blog is not about me, but I want to include this section to mention the wonderful barns that have helped me along the way. As a kid my 4-H group took a field trip to Westwind 4-H Riding for the Handicapped in Los Altos Hills, CA, and I was intrigued. In college I interned as a Foal Manager at the UC David Horse Barn and volunteered a full 5 times at Horseplay Therapeutic Riding Center in Dixon, CA, where I fell in love with the riders but thought “I could never do that” (be an instructor). Post college I learned to teach using experiential education at Mount Hermon’s Outdoor Science School and volunteered once at the Monterey Bay Therapeutic and Horsemanship Center but didn’t have time to continue, though I will always remember taking the riders on a path by the beach. After getting married and moving to Illinois, I volunteered at Blazing Prairie Stars in Maple Park, IL, where I thought “I could totally do this” (how time changes things)! Ironically, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done! I did my teaching hours there and at Bravehearts Therapeutic Riding in Harvard and Poplar Grove, IL and in 2012 I got certified through PATH Intl.! I was privileged to work at both barns for a few months before moving to Indiana, where I worked at People and Animal Learning Services (PALS) in Bloomington, IN for several years as Instructor, as Head Instructor, and starting up their veterans program. Since 2016 have been primarily a stay at home mom to 3 little kids, and we now live in Oregon. I would like to go back to instructing one day and hope to make blog posts more often again!
I have always loved horses and valued helping people, and this industry has been a great combination of the two. I was a painfully shy kid, but special horses showed me unconditional acceptance and gave me confidence, and I only wish to share that with others. Also, I had a very hard time learning to teach TR, but I find that often our hardest experiences enable us to best help others, so I want to try to make it a little easier for everyone else!
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” -1 Corinthian 1:3-4
Practice “Safe First”
Do no harm to any rider
Present a professional appearance
Have a daily lesson plan appropriate to rider’s disability
Be a task master: of your self and those around you
Simplify words and actions
Be creative, be resourceful
Bring each rider to his full potential, challenge each rider
Recognize your own areas of strength, and limitations
Enjoy yourself while teaching, enjoy your riders.
–Untitled, by Jean M. Tebay (as printed in “Therapeutic Riding I Strategies for Instruction Part I”)
“I Saw A Child” by John Anthony Davies
I saw a child who couldn’t walk,
sit on a horse, laugh and talk.
Then ride it through a field of daisies
and yet he could not walk unaided.
I saw a child, no legs below,
sit on a horse, and make it go
through woods of green
and places he had never been
to sit and stare,
except from a chair.
I saw a child who could only crawl
mount a horse and sit up tall
Put it through degrees of paces
and laugh at the wonder in our faces
I saw a child born into strife,
Take up and hold the reins of life
and that same child was heard to say,
Thank God for showing me the way.
From “The Poet Goes to Indiana” by Mary Oliver
…and she put her face against my face,
put her muzzle, her nostrils, soft as violets,
against my mouth and my nose, and breathed me,
to see who I was,
a long quiet minute – minutes –
then she stamped feet and whisked tail
and danced deliciously into the grass away, and came back.
She was saying, so plainly, that I was good, or good enough.
I’m glad you’re here and wish you all the best with your instructing!
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!