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Equine-Assisted Therapy Programs

Publication Number: M2277
View as PDF: M2277.pdf
Text file for accessibility: File m2277_accessible.docx

The core focus of Extension’s Equine-Assisted Therapy Programs is to create a positive environment, promote healing, and empower riders.

4-H Therapeutic Riding & Activity Center Core Values

  • Healing
  • Empowerment
  • Passion
  • Integrity

Who can benefit from therapeutic riding?

Individuals of all ages, disabilities, and conditions may benefit from therapeutic riding, including but not limited to people with: 

  • autism
  • cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • learning disabilities
  • spina bifida
  • spinal cord injuries
  • visual and hearing impairments
  • cardiovascular accidents
  • multiple sclerosis
  • muscular dystrophy

Local communities, 4-H members, and volunteers also benefit from therapeutic riding opportunities by participating in rewarding and memorable experiences. 

How does the horse’s movement help riders?

The movement of the horse at a walk

  • provides sensory input that stimulates normal muscle responses in the human rider.
  • enhances cognitive and physical development.
  • simulates the movement of a human’s pelvis, trunk, shoulders, and arms when walking.

Services Currently Offered

Therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity that contributes to the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well-being of individuals with special needs. 

The Veterans’ Horsemanship Program is a natural horsemanship-based program provided for area veterans. The goals of the program are to offer hope and encouragement through activities with the horse that promote physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth. Participants may have any level of horse experience, from beginner to advanced. Participants learn about horse behavior, care, grooming, equipment, and natural horsemanship methods.

How can I help the therapeutic riding program? 

  • Make a financial donation
  • Donate a horse
  • Sponsor a rider and/or a horse
  • Volunteer to assist with riding classes
  • Share information about the program

4-H and equine-assisted therapy programs have the same mission.

These programs help young people

  • acquire knowledge,
  • develop life skills, and
  • form attitudes that enable them to become self-directed, productive, contributing members of society.

Learn More

For additional information about the MSU Extension Equine-Assisted Therapy Programs or for a program application, contact Cassie Brunson at (662) 325-1718 or

For more information on volunteer opportunities, contact Lori Irvin at

Equine-Assisted Therapy programs are held at

Elizabeth A. Howard Therapeutic Riding and Activity Center, 1225 Old White Road South, West Point, MS 39773

To become a volunteer or learn more, contact Lori Irvin at

Certification workshops for therapeutic riding instructors are approved by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International.

M2277 (05-19)

Distributed by Cassie Brunson, Extension Associate, Human Sciences.

Copyright 2019 by Mississippi State University. All rights reserved. This publication may be copied and distributed without alteration for nonprofit educational purposes provided that credit is given to the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Produced by Agricultural Communications.

Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution. Discrimination in university employment, programs, or activities based on race, color, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, or any other status protected by applicable law is prohibited. Questions about equal opportunity programs or compliance should be directed to the Office of Compliance and Integrity, 56 Morgan Avenue, P.O. 6044, Mississippi State, MS 39762, (662) 325-5839.

For disability accommodation, please contact Cassie Brunson at

Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director


Department: Ctr 4-H Youth Development, School of Human Sciences
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