Therapeutic Riding 2017-02-13T14:09:39+00:00

We invite you grab life by the reins and become one of the many riders who prosper at CTRC. So, if you think you, or someone you know, could benefit from any of our equine assisted activities or therapies services, follow the Rider In-Take process outlined below to get the process started.

*Please note that while no clinical diagnosis is necessary to participate, it is required that participants have a need for our specialized, therapeutic environment. Additionally, a participant must be at least four years of age to enroll in any equine assisted activities aside from Hippotherapy. There is no maximum age for participation.


The New Participant Packet (Spanish version) contains an Application, Consent & Release Form and Medical History Form (which needs to be thoroughly filled out, signed by an MD, DO, NP or PA and dated to be valid).

This can be done in one of the following ways…
• Fax to 303-532-0164
• Email to Head Instructor
• Mail to CTRC (11968 Mineral Rd, Longmont, CO 80504)

Once CTRC has received your completed application, we will contact you to schedule an evaluation. An evaluation helps us ensure that we can safely accommodate you in our program, recommend the proper class, develop therapeutic goals and create good rider/volunteer/horse teams. Not everyone can be accepted into the program due to safety or physical / medical contraindications.

Upon completion of an evaluation and determination by CTRC that we are able to safely accommodate the participant, the participant is able to register for services. A participant’s individual needs and abilities determine which service is best suited for registration.

“Riding is a partnership. Together you can achieve a richness that neither alone can.” – Lucy Rees

Therapeutic Riding

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Success at CTRC isn’t measured by scoring a goal or getting straight A’s, but rather by attaining personal goals – the confidence to get on a horse, or the ability to navigate around a barrel, or trotting once around the ring. Therapeutic Riding involves a certified instructor, with trained volunteers, assisting riders to achieve therapeutic and other life goals, acquire horsemanship skills, and establish a special bond with their horse. It is the horse’s three-dimensional stride which makes Therapeutic Riding such an effective therapeutic tool. The horse’s movement simulates a normal human gait. This in turn stimulates the rider physically and cognitively toward reaching therapeutic goals. This gentle rhythmic movement helps improve balance, muscle control and tone, motor development and coordination, posture, strength and overall body awareness. And riders, many for the first time in their lives, can experience the freedom and joy of independent movement.

The relationship that can occur between a rider and their horse can help a rider overcome debilitating fears. As a rider learns that they can have control of a horse, they can begin to learn that they can take control of themselves as well. Trust, impulse control, self-confidence, relationship building and natural consequences are all among the lessons learned. Further, the opportunity to give verbal commands to the horse has allowed many of our riders to greatly improve their verbal skills, and has even led to some of our riders speaking for the first time.

CTRC offers riding sessions throughout the year. Each session is orientated towards the participants identified horsemanship and therapeutic goals. With the combination of safety and therapy as priority, CTRC’s PATH Intl., certified instructors, specially trained horses and caring volunteers provide a team second to none in assisting riders to experience accomplishments, interact socially, and learn new skills in an enriching environment.


  • Group classes (3 to 5 riders) are 1 hour/week for length of session and lead by a PATH Intl. certified Instructor. Group classes are organized according to age, type of disability and level of riding skill.
  • Semi-Private classes (2 riders) are 45 mins/week for length of session lead by a PATH Intl. certified Instructor.
  • Private classes (1 rider) are 30 mins/week for length of session lead by a PATH Intl. certified Instructor.
  • Services are offered year round operating on a session-to-session basis (generally four sessions of services a year). Sessions can vary in length from 5 to 14 weeks, depending on the time of year. Classes are held Monday – Saturday with varying times. Participants register to receive services for length of session.
  • Cost of session varies depending on length of session. Cost is a flat rate of $40/week.
  • CTRC does not work with any health care provider for billing. We will, if asked, provide clients with paperwork/receipts when seeking their own reimbursement.
  • Check out the FAQ page for answers to common questions about CTRC’s services.

Community Groups

Community Groups

CTRC is a strong supporter of our surrounding communities, therefore, we invite schools, recreation, therapy or other groups to get involved in our therapeutic riding services. Beyond riding community groups may incorportate un-mounted activities, such as grooming, tacking, equine education, and team-building. Group therapists / educators / providers are encouraged to be involved.


Interactive Vaulting

An innovative sport that combines gymnastics, horseback riding and team building. The therapeutic value of interactive vaulting is immense as it promotes strength, flexibility, balance and coordination through the physical moves, as well as builds confidence, trust, patience and critical thinking as participants must learn routines and develop the skills necessary to perform these on a moving horse.  Well suited for participants with communication and social difficulties, behavioral issues or lacking self esteem.

Ground Lessons

Ground Lessons

Participants, who may be over our weight limit or otherwise not able to be safely mounted, are able to experience therapeutic horse-related activities by taking Ground Lessons. Participants can benefit physically and/or emotionally from being on the ground with the horse through walking, fine motor coordination, confidence building, etc. and may engage in tacking, grooming, leading and/or take part in other ground based experiences while developing a bond with their horse.

Special Opps

Special Opportunities

Therapeutic “as available” offerings to explore vaulting, trail riding, family riding or focused skill development.

CTRC is home to pioneering efforts in research on therapeutic riding.

Therapeutic Riding Research Overview

From 2007-2009 Children’s Hospital and the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center (CTRC) conducted a pilot project that studied the effects of therapeutic horseback riding on 41 children ages 6-16 years. The results of the pilot study showed that, compared to when the study started, the children showed significant improvements in levels of irritability, lethargy, stereotypic behavior and hyperactivity as well as improvements in expressive language, motor coordination and motor planning, on well-regarded measures. Read about the study here, in a poster presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research!

In order to build upon the positive results of this pilot project, a grant funded through the National Institutes of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health (NINR/NIH) was awarded in 2010. This ground-breaking four-year collaborative project between the Children’s Hospital, Denver and the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center continued to study the effects of therapeutic horseback riding on school age children with autism spectrum disorders with the addition of an active control group on site at CTRC. In addition, the study will track the long-term effects of therapeutic riding. This research has the potential to benefit the lives of many children and to shape the future programs of the more than 800 therapeutic horseback riding centers across the United States.

The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry interviews Dr. Gabriels on Therapeutic Riding research in relation to Autism Spectrum Disorder. Listen here…

The Spring 2011 issue of PATH’s STRIDES Magazine was the first ever focused on research and CTRC’s research project was the feature article!