Therapeutic Equestrian Program


Therapeutic horseback riding began in Europe over 60 years ago.  It grew from a spark of intuitive wisdom in a few dedicated equestrians, into an established treatment method, now widely recognized by the medical, psychiatric, and social service professions worldwide.  In the United States, quality programming and accreditation for over 400 centers is monitored by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), a non-profit service organization dedicated to promoting horseback riding for the handicapped.

Thanks to Amy and Gary Goudelock and their dedicated team, we are lucky to have an accredited center right here in the upstate at Eden Farms. Their program, Happy Hooves, has been a premier PATH accredited center since 2005. One of only 6 premier accredited centers in South Carolina and the only one in the upstate. This accreditation is a rigorous process that calls for centers to meet stringent requirements for staff, facilities and programs. A program must be re-accredited every five years.   To volunteer at Eden Farms, call 864.898.0043 – remember, there are so many things that have to be done and many require no horse training experience. 

The Happy Hooves Therapeutic Equestrian Centerat Eden Farms states the following about therapeutic riding and their mission:

Research shows that therapeutic riding can provide remarkable physical, emotional, and mental benefits.  A horse’s movement stimulates the rider’s body in a manner that closely resembles the gait of a human.  This motion promotes muscle strength, increases endurance, and improves posture, balance and coordination.  Relationships formed with horses and volunteers bring increased confidence, patience, and self-esteem.

At Eden Farms, our mission is to provide therapeutic riding and other equine related activities to individuals with special physical, emotional, and cognitive needs in a safe and fun environment.  We are a PATH Intl Operating Center and adhere to the standards of this association.

Helen’s Hugs is proud to support the Happy Hooves Equestrian Therapy program at Eden Farms through our continued funding for special needs children whose families may otherwise not be able to participate. Helen’s Hugs also provides funding for entire classrooms of children in our area schools and truly no one is left out.

Further information from other programs:

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding in Old Lyme, Connecticut is a model organization for this type of therapy.  Their approach is that therapeutic riding “benefits the bodies, minds and spirits of our riders.”

Body—the gait of the horse simulates a normal human gait, and works specific muscle groups.  Physical benefits can include motor development, coordination and overall body awareness.

Mind—time spent with a horse motivates riders to learn new things.  It is noted that some riders have spoken for the very first time out of the excitement of riding and the opportunity to give verbal commands to the horse.

Spirit—riders experience the sensation of independent motion—sometimes for the first time.  They gain confidence in themselves, build relationships, and take pride in their abilities.  Focus is on what riders can do—not on what they cannot.

Rein and Shine (reinandshine.org) in Mt. Pleasant, SC states that riding allows our students to experience feelings, sensations, and emotions that they cannot get without the partnership of a horse!

Hugs for Horses in Georgetown says that using the power of horses to exercise the spirits and bodies of people with physical, cognitive, and social or behavioral disabilities.