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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who is eligible to ride at High Hopes?
  2. What are the benefits of therapeutic riding? Why use horses?
  3. When are lessons offered?
  4. How do you enroll?
  5. How do I schedule a visit to High Hopes?
  6. How many horses do you have? What types of horses do you have?
  7. How does High Hopes select horses? Is my horse a good candidate?
  8. How many volunteers do you have?
  9. What areas are available for volunteers to work in?
  10. How do I get involved as a volunteer?
  11. How do I become a donor, or make a donation?
  12. How does someone become a therapeutic riding instructor?

1.Who is eligible to ride at High Hopes?

Children and adults with disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, emotional and behavior disorders, developmental and intellectual delays

Local school districts

Group homes and day programs in the community

Military service personnel that may be living with challenges such as post-traumatic stress disorder, amputations, or traumatic brain injuries.

Individuals without disabilities can participate in community lessons and summer camp


2. What are the benefits of therapeutic riding? Why use horses?

A horse’s movement closely resembles the normal gait of a human and can be used to produce specific physical changes in the rider, including muscle tone, posture, balance, and increased strength. Movement exploration while on the horse can help improve overall body awareness, sensory input, and establish rhythm. Also, overcoming fear and anxiety can increase a rider’s self- esteem which is one of the emotional benefits of using horses. Riders will learn skills, develop relationships, discover companionship and bonding, and have a positive emotional experience at High Hopes. Educational goals are also a key factor in therapeutic riding, which helps to enhance the rider’s cognitive functions. Letter recognition, sequencing, social situations, and challenging activities are just a few ways that riders learn new skills.


3. When are lessons offered?

High Hopes has both an indoor and outdoor arena, allowing us to operate year round with spring, summer, fall, and winter sessions. Classes are offered six days a week. Spring and fall semesters are both 12 weeks in length, while summer and winter semesters are 6 weeks in length.


4. How do you enroll?

Prospective participants are given information and the forms required for the application and after all forms, including a medical history, are submitted to High Hopes, the potential participant’s eligibility is assessed. Children must be at least three years old; there is no upper age limit.

Learn more and obtain applications here or contact Liz Adams, Program Director, at ladams@highhopestr.org or (860) 434-1974, ext. 116..


5. How do I schedule a visit to High Hopes?

To schedule a visit at High Hopes call us at (860) 434-1974 and let us know you are interested in learning more about us and taking a tour.


6. How many horses do you have? What types of horses do you have?

Here at High Hopes we have 27 horses ranging from a palomino miniature gelding to a Clydesdale/Hackney cross.


7. How does High Hopes select horses? Is my horse a good candidate?

It is mentally and physically challenging for a horse to perform the job that we require them to complete daily. They must be sound at the walk, trot, and canter with three rhythmic and balanced gaits. The horses must listen to both voice and leg signals, be quiet and well-mannered on the ground, and be accepting of assistive devices and equipment. All of horses must tolerate one or two people walking and trotting beside them. We prefer horses who are younger than 18 years old and are under 16.2 hands tall.

If you are interested in considering High Hopes as a home for your horse, please complete the Prospective Horse Form and contact Holly Sundmacker, Equine Operations Director, at (860) 434-1974 ext. 127 or hsundmacker@highhopestr.org for more information.


 8. How many volunteers do you have?

 Currently, High Hopes has over 650 volunteers who put in over 31,600 hours of volunteering in a year.


9. What areas are available for volunteers to work in?

Volunteers are needed in the lesson program to be either sidewalkers or horse leaders. Sidewalkers do not need experience and provide physical and emotional support. Horse leaders must have horse experience and an understanding of horses in order to lead the horse during programs.

The carriage driving program provides a recreational and sporting experience with a horse for those who cannot or choose not to participant in the riding lessons. It involves riding in or actually driving a cart or carriage that is pulled by a horse. Driving volunteers include horse handlers and able-bodied whips.

The equine learning program needs volunteers to help those who cannot or choose not to ride in the lesson program. Equine learning offers participants new skills related to horse care and stable management such as grooming, leading, and learning about different horse colors and breeds.

Volunteers can also help with office work such as data entry, photocopying, bulk mailings, answering phones, etc. Volunteers in barn management are also needed for feeding, maintenance, grooming, etc. Anyone with special skills such as photography, graphic design, computer knowledge, etc. are encouraged to become volunteers as well.


10. How do I get involved as a volunteer?

To become a volunteer you must contact the Volunteer Manager, Megan Ellis at 860-434-1974 ext. 112 to sign up for a general orientation session.


11. How do I become a donor, or make a donation?

To become a donor or make a donation, contact Sara Qua, Director of Development at (860) 434-1974 ext. 122.


12. How does someone become a therapeutic riding instructor?

To become a therapeutic riding instructor you must take a PATH Int’l Registered Certification Course to become accredited. You can either attend an Approved Training Course (such as our Instructor Training Course) or through a multi-step educational process which culminates in an Onsite Workshop and Certification. Please contact Patti Coyle, Training and Education Director, at pcoyle@highhopestr.org or (860) 434-1974, ext. 124 to learn more.

Additional information on these topics can be found in the relevant section of this website or contact us at (860) 434-1974 or hhinfo@highhopestr.org