Able Riders

Able Riders Therapeutic Horseback Riding is a program operated by Family SOUP to provide an opportunity for children with disabilities to benefit from the therapeutic effects of horseback riding. Family SOUP is interested in PG&E’s support either from their community grant program or investing a like amount in PG&E’s fund raising efforts on our behalf.

Why Able Riders Therapeutic Horseback Riding is needed

Able Riders is the only therapy horseback riding program in the 3 Sutter/Yuba/Colusa county area. This therapy relaxes tight muscles, improves balance and coordination, strength and endurance, neuromotor function, sensory processing, patience, attention, confidence and self-esteem.

What is therapeutic horseback riding?


Therapeutic horseback riding is the use of horses and equine-assisted activities in order to achieve goals that enhance physical, emotional, social, cognitive, behavioral and educational skills for people who have disabilities. It not only focuses on the therapeutic riding skills but also the development of a relationship between horse and rider. It uses a team approach in order to provide treatment for the individual with the guidance of riding instructor.

Horses provide a unique neuromuscular stimulation through their one of a kind movement. Horses move in a rhythmic motion that mimics the human movement of walking. While riding, the horse’s stride acts to move the rider’s pelvis in the same rotation and side-to-side movement that occurs when walking. The gait of the horse prompts riders to constantly adjust to achieve the desired pelvic motion that promotes strength, balance, coordination, flexibility and confidence.

The American Physical Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association recognize the therapeutic qualities of horseback riding. Physical therapists often remark on the added progress children make with the horseback riding that they couldn’t achieve in clinic. Our stories are not unique and include a rider who was wheelchair bound with traumatic brain injury with no prospects of ever walking again. After years of physical therapy and no progress toward walking he rode with Able Riders and 10 months later he began walking independently. Eventually his mother claimed she had to run after him! Another young man learned to read in middle school after being motivated to read anything to do with horses and six years later earned a high school diploma.


Parents currently contribute $50 per month to sustain the program in addition to a portion of the county Promoting Safe and Stable Families grant. Other sources include the Able Riders Leg Up for Able Riders fund raiser, the Family SOUP annual campaign, and the Family SOUP annual dinner/raffle/auction event. Family SOUP is developing champions for Able Riders from foundations, local businesses and agribusiness. Able Riders was awarded a $10,000 grant from Monsanto in 2014.

Able Rider Makes a “Splish”

Kelsey Wins the GAP Logo Contest

When the Yuba City Parks & Recreation Department ran a contest for area children to design a mascot for the new Gauche Aquatic Park (GAP), long-time rider Kelsey Graham saw an opportunity.  The 7th grader was taking a watercolor class at school and decided to put her talent to work designing a water related mascot for our new community park  & pool.

Kelsey designed, drew and colored a water drop design and named it “Splishy”.  The water drop was such a popular theme that the Parks & Recreation Department adopted the idea and declared Kelsey and the three other contestants who submitted water drop concepts as co-winners of the contest.   Even Kelsey’s suggestion of the name was adopted (slightly modified) for the new mascots, “Splish” and “Splash!”

In addition to a free family pass for a full GAP season, all four girls got to participate in a photo shoot with Splish (the girl) and Splash (the boy), and had their photo on the back cover of the Summer 2007 Yuba City Parks & Recreation Activity Guide.

More About Kelsey

After five years of participating in Able Riders, Kelsey’s balance skills and independence have improved tremendously.  Whereas she used to be “wobbly” and hesitant, she is now willing to try almost anything.  She recently tackled a kids’ challenge course, riding the zip line swing, whooping it up all the way, and walking right down the middle of netting suspended 30 feet in the air without hanging on to the sides!

Kelsey now describes herself as brave and strong.  She is getting ready to graduate from 8th grade and will be attending Yuba City High School in the Fall.  She plays TOPSoccer and Challenger baseball, and wants to work in a restaurant and at a veterinarian’s office when she grows up.

Wanted: responsible Volunteers over the age of 15

Able Riders is recruiting responsible young people and adults to volunteer for our program. Able Riders is a therapeutic horseback riding program for children and young adults with special needs. We are looking for individuals to help sidewalk, lead, and groom horses. While horse experience is desired, it is not necessary.

Therapeutic horseback riding is a fun and motivating way to provide therapy for individuals with physical, mental or emotional disabilities. We welcome new volunteers as part of the program. We offer training and seek people who want to truly make a difference in the lives of children with special needs.

We ride on Tuesday evenings. The first of our four 45 minute sessions begins at 5:30 p.m.

We are a 4-H community club. To learn more about volunteering, please call Able Riders at 751-9526.

We need you!