Exceptional Riders Program

Therapeutic Riding

Who are we?

­The Exceptional Riders Program was formed in 1983 and is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing horseback riding lessons for individuals with physical, mental, and emotional support needs. The program meets in spring and fall for eight weeks, one night per week, two classes per night. Students are taught riding skills and not just given a "pony ride". The horse is controlled, not led. The 1-hour lesson consists of mounted exercise, games, and riding instructions. Standards of safety and instruction are top priority to enhance the rider's physical and mental well-being. Goals are set for each individual according to their needs, experience, and ability level. The volunteers are there to help them meet those goals.


We strive to help our students:

  • ¬≠Physically strengthen and relax muscles to¬†develop balance, agility, and coordination.

  • Socially develop new friendships, have fun, and share happiness.

  • Psychologically develop self awareness, gain a sense of achievement, increase motivation, awareness, and courage.

Program Goals

The Exceptional Riders Program encourages individuals with special needs to improve balance and self-esteem through the use of therapeutic horseback riding.

  • Exceptional Riders has extensive knowledge and expertise with¬†nearly 40¬†years of Therapeutic Riding horsemanship.

  • The Exceptional Riders Program is accredited through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.

  • Our instructors are¬†PATH certified.

  • Our volunteers are trained.

  • Our horses are trusted.

  • Use of horses generously¬†donated by Rising Hope Equestrian Center.

  • Students participate free of charge.

Exceptional Riders Program Goal Statement

Our purpose is to enhance the lives of individuals who have special needs through equine assisted activities and therapies while teaching the sport of horsemanship. Therapeutic Riding provides healthy exercise while building skills, allowing each individual to be successful by focusing on their accomplishments. 


Today the Exceptional Riders Program serves riders of all ages who have physical, emotional, and cognitive disabilities. 


How do I get Involved?

If you would like to volunteer, or have a child with special needs who could benefit from our program, submit your information below and a member of the Exceptional Riders Program will contact you. You may also call 231-883-1221. We look forward to hearing from you!­


­The Exceptional Riders Program utilizes volunteers from the community and relies on donations. This is a non-profit entirely volunteer driven program. Student participation is free of charge.