In therapeutic riding (also called adaptive riding) we teach horsemanship skills adapted to each rider’s ability level. The instructor, rider, and family work together to set goals. Lessons are highly individualized in order to target those goals and progress toward independence. While working on the overarching goals, we are sure to emphasize the fun side of getting to be with horses.This is one activity that should not feel like work!
Great and Small’s instructors are certified to teach therapeutic riding through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International (PATH Intl). They complete annual continuing education requirements so that they are current on industry best practices.
Lessons are typically scheduled weekly. Private and small group sessions are available depending on the rider’s needs and lesson availability. To begin the registration process, please submit the Participant Application.
Therapeutic and Adaptive Riding
Kids Inclusive Camp
This camp was full with a waitlist months in advance - stay tuned for 2023 dates and remember to sign up early!
Kids Inclusive Camp is a fun time for participants of all abilities aged 5-10. We offer a safe environment great for participants to come and learn how to ride and care for their equine partners. Participants will spend their mornings engaged in daily riding lessons with our therapeutic riding instructors, and daily unmounted equine learning lessons where they may learn how to groom their horse, how to care for their horse and much more! Afternoons will be spent on the ground with arts and crafts time, social skills activities and games. This inclusive camp is designed for participants of all abilities, friends and siblings are welcome.
Military Kids Camp
We had a great Military Kids Camp in 2022 and look forward to hosting this event in 2023!
We are proud to pilot our first Military Kids Camp this Summer! This camp is targeted towards 4th - 7th graders, who come from a military family. This camp will focus on beginning riding skills both on the ground and in the saddle. Military Kids Camp will give participants the opportunity to connect with their team (volunteers, horse) and peers alike. This will be an inclusive camp open to participants of all abilities as well as siblings.
Youth Horsemanship Camp
We had a great Youth Horsemanship Camp in 2022 and look forward to hosting this event in 2023!
Calling all 5th - 12th graders. Youth Horsemanship Camp at Great and Small is designed to foster self confidence, communication and social skills for students with learning differences.This fun camp incorporates therapeutic riding lessons, unmounted equine assisted learning and peer interaction alongside qualified Great and Small staff and volunteers.
For more information or to get on our mailing list for 2023 camp signups, please contact Interim Program Director Lisa Gatons at LGatons@greatandsmallride.org
Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL)
Great and Small offers unmounted horsemanship lessons to participants interested in learning skills related to horse health and care, horse handling, barn maintenance and equine body language. This program allows participants to form a unique bond with the horse by learning how to communicate and work with the horse on the ground. Other benefits include improved strength, coordination, confidence, self-esteem and social skills. In addition to EAL programs on-site, Great and Small also partners with assisted living facilities across Montgomery County to bring EAL directly to the residents at their place of living, which encourages mobility, social engagement, and physical activity.
Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP)
EFP is an experiential form of therapy that incorporates horses into the treatment process. Horses’ sensitivity to subtle changes in their environment make them perfect partners for mental health professionals who work with clients to foster a wide range of life and coping skills. In this interactive process, a licensed mental health professional collaborates with a PATH International Equine Specialist and suitable equines to address psychotherapy goals set by the mental health professional and the client.
Hippotherapy is an evidence based treatment tool utilized by Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists. This unique tool emphasizes utilizing equine movement to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems.
Hippotherapy as a treatment tool should be utilized in combination with other treatment tools and strategies in the patients plan of care.
Many systems are influenced with the use of equine movement as a treatment tool. Some of these systems include: motor, musculoskeletal, nervous/limbic, respiratory, circulatory, sensory processing, cognition, and speech and language.
Conducting therapy on the farm offers a unique environment that offers a variety of opportunities for patients.
The movement of the horse offers unparalleled practice and repetition of motor skills. Equine movement offers rhythmic, repetitive and fluid practice as patient's experience repetition of the movement up to 100 times per minute.
Patient's functional communication skills are challenged through use of communication with an equine partner/team, and appropriate behavioral strategies are tested and applied to changing context.
Patients gain life skills through caring for/mimicking daily living tasks in the equine environment.
Occupational Therapy incorporating hippotherapy as a treatment tool may be appropriate for a wide variety of diagnoses and ages (beginning at age 2). Sessions are 1 hour long, typically consisting of 30 minutes of mounted work and 30 minutes of unmounted work. For more information on Occupational Therapy incorporating hippotherapy as a treatment strategy and our current availability please contact our Interim Program Director, Lisa Gatons.
Programming for Veterans and Military Family Members
Increasingly, the military community is recognizing that Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) provide unique, significant benefits to veterans living with the effects of a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound incurred during military service.
Likewise, all interested veterans and military family members often can enjoy the sense of community that participating or volunteering at an EAAT center offers. Great and Small provides EAAT to veterans and military family members through either individual or group programming. We also encourage veterans and military family members to volunteer with us!
We offer adaptive horseback riding and/or equine-assisted learning (EAL) to veterans and military family members. These programs offer unique benefits, including forming a bond or special connection with one of our horses.
In addition, together with partnering mental health professionals, Great and Small offers equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP). In this unique form of experiential psychotherapy, a team consisting of a mental health professional, equine specialist and specially-selected equines collaborate with the veteran to address his or her treatment goals in a dynamic, outdoor environment.
Please complete a Participant Application or contact Lisa Gatons, Interim Program Director, with any questions. You can also reach us by phone at 301-349-0075.
Veterans who meet our eligibility requirements for adaptive riding or EAL can enjoy a first ride or EAL session free of charge. We also have limited in-house scholarship funding for veterans and military family members, which is assessed on a case-by-case basis upon request.
Great and Small is an approved PATH Intl. Center for Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) participation. This means that any veteran registered with WWP can call the WWP Warrior Resource Center and ask for a PATH Intl. Equine Therapy referral. When making the request, the veteran can name Great and Small as the center of choice and will subsequently be placed with our center pending approval. WWP typically funds 10 lessons for each veteran who applies.
Air Warrior Courage Foundation (AWCF) funds therapeutic riding for children with special needs from military families. AWCF has an ongoing application process and more information can be accessed via their website.
Our dynamic, flexible group programming options can be specifically tailored to address the goals and meet the needs of veteran groups. Equine-Assisted Learning activities emphasize mindfulness, leadership, self-confidence and positive social interactions/connections. Past veterans who participated in our group programming provided the following feedback:
“The WHOLE thing was fantastic. There was no particular one aspect or activity, it was the entire experience laid up on top of itself which was very powerful.”
“I felt very listened to and valued and that the volunteer I was speaking with was very genuine, sincere and cared greatly about helping the group.”
“I found that my fears and doubts dissipated as I worked with the horse during grooming. I felt myself zoning out as I did that – it was very therapeutic.” (This veteran shared that she had no intention of participating as she was afraid of larger animals, but felt all her fears were put at ease by the staff).
“I smiled more there than I had in a long time.”
Please complete a Group Inquiry Form or Contact Us for more information about scheduling group activities for veterans or military family members.
Articles about EAAT and Benefits for Veterans:
“Study Shows Therapeutic Horseback Riding Significantly Reduces PTSD Symptoms in Military Veterans.” The Equine Chronicle.
“Veterans Conquer Depression with Equine Therapy.” VA Health News.
“Veterans with PTSD Are Turning to Horses for Healing.” Military Times.
School and Group Programming
Great and Small offers dynamic, flexible group programming options, formatted for either a one-time visit or weekly participation. We have group opportunities for both Hands on Horses (groundwork with horses) and therapeutic horseback riding.
Our flexible curriculum options can be tailored to suit the needs of almost any group.
A special education class participates in a weekly horsemanship club to learn the basics of horse care and riding
Veterans groups engage in a one-time Equine Learning experience to cultivate mindfulness, flexible communication skills and team building
Women in recovery engage in a one-time Equine Learning experience designed to foster self-care, self-confidence, appropriate boundary setting
A high school special education class field trip introduces participants to careers related to farms and horse care
We can even come to your location! Hands on Horses travels to bring the solace and joy of interacting with horses to individuals residing in assisted living facilities.
Below are some of the organizations we have partnered with:
The HSC Pediatric Center's Kids in Action
Fresh Start Recovery Center
Katherine Thomas School
Community Support Services
Avery House Sober Living Home
College Living Experience
Quince Orchard High School
Sherwood High School
Gaithersburg High School
Lakelands Middle School
Montgomery Village Middle School
Clopper Mill Elementary School
The Auburn School
The Ivymount School
National Academy Foundation
Head Injury Rehabilitation & Referral Services
Please complete a Group Inquiry Form or contact us to discuss how your group could benefit from Equine Assisted Activities.