Adaptive Therapeutic Riding

While we happily welcome people of all abilities, we specialize in working with people who need a quiet, supportive environment and a more individualized pace. All of our lesson horses are donated or rescued and chosen specifically for their gentle temperament, patience, and ability to work with all ages.

Rather than follow a prescribed lesson plan, we blend together proven elements from several programs to create an individualized lesson for each rider. We draw from PATH International (the professional association for therapeutic riding), Applied Behavior Analysis (a well-proven and highly effective therapy for those on the autism spectrum), and occupational, physical, and speech therapies.

Scooter’s Place is neither a therapeutic barn nor a mainstream barn but something in between, offering a fun and flexible, yet safe and structured environment in which to learn, build strength, confidence, agility, cognitive as well as physical growth.

A visit to Scooter’s Place might find you watching a young boy on the autism spectrum riding side by side with his typically developing sister, assisted by two trained volunteers, as our instructor gently instructs both riders in guiding their horse and watching for the horse’s response. Mom and dad might be sitting on the sidelines cheering them on or relaxing in the lounge having coffee or enjoying a picnic lounge in the sun under one of the gazebos, watching, wide-eyed and beaming, as their son and daughter enjoy their time on horseback together. For children with special needs, the opportunity to participate in any activity with their typically-developing sibling is rare (few adaptive recreational programs “mainstream” participation as we do). We know this has tremendous value for the child with special needs…and for the entire family.

Our instructors work side by side with dedicated volunteers who build a relationship with each student. Our horsemanship education teaches life skills, riding skills, builds self-confidence, and body awareness in a non-restrictive and non-judgmental barn environment. Our new facility with indoor and outdoor arenas provide for year round scheduling which has resulted in consistent advancement in our riders goals and improvement in physical and cognitive skills.

Scooter enjoyed great success as a Hunter Jumper competitor for many years. After retiring from the competition circuit, Scooter was Carrie’s first lesson horse and together, they taught literally hundreds of children how to ride. Scooter recently passed away at the amazing age of 35 but his spirit lives on every day through the work that we do.

Children under age 4 or needing special attention are placed into private lessons unless other arrangements have been made in advance. We believe in inclusion for camps and lessons because it is a wonderful experience for all kids. We let siblings ride together and we can offer a parent and child session together as well we have horses of all sizes to meet the needs of each individual . We are here to do what works for our families!

We are happy to have families bring along their ABA therapist or aide to work with our instructor and volunteers in the arena to lessen the child’s anxiety. We also offer “Day on the Farm” for current or future students to help them get acquainted with our program. Our annual budget is not met through tuition. Donations are needed and can be easy to make from our Facebook page or on the Scooter’s Place website.

Stacey Shanley, whose son Matthew, age 11 with autism, and daughter Noel, age 9, both ride at Scooter’s Place, says, “They are so close in age but it is difficult to find an activity they can do together. That’s what I like about Scooter’s Place. They tailor the program to each child and both get support. Noel is typically developing but she’s timid. This is something they can do together as brother and sister and I can take both of them to just one place. They’re gaining a sense of responsibility as they learn to groom their horse and do chores which are part of their lesson. The instructors go out of their way to make it better, to get to know Matthew, and Noel. Matthew started out trying to get a reaction out of everyone. But his anxiety is gone now and he talks to everybody. Noel is more confident too! I’ve tried lots of other programs for my kids. At Scooter’s Place, they just “get it.” That one little hour Matthew and Noel spend together is so nice to see as a parent. With other activities, I have to be right there supporting Matthew. Here, he’s supported and so is Noel and that gives me peace of mind as a parent.”