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A Warm Welcome from Dr. Carol R. Hansen, the Director of Equine Therapy Associates (ETA), a NARHA, PATH International Center:

Welcome to ETA—a 501(c)3 charitable entity that supports a place of joyful learning and love for children and horses in Montgomery County, Maryland. Founded in 1999, ETA has been an accredited Premier Center of the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) now known as Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH Int'l.), providing a broad range of specialized equine instruction in a private, beautiful setting on a pesticide-free farm. ETA's certified instructors work closely with parents, physicians, teachers, physical, occupational and other therapists, as well as our riders to craft the most effective and suitable course of study to enhance the physical and emotional development of our students. In addition, ETA's 90 minute private lessons provide two to three times as much contact time at roughly the same cost. If you seek the benefits of focused one-on-one instruction with a dedicated staff in a clean barn overflowing with happy cats, nuzzling ponies and happy students, please read on. We want to hear from you soon! Call us at (301) 972-7833 or e-mail Director@equinetherapyassociates.com

Best Regards,
Dr. Carol Rae Hansen, Director

What Disabilities Does ETA focus on?

ETA offers lessons for individuals aged three and up, and focuses primarily on learning disabilities, ADHD/ADD, sequencing disorders, processing disorders, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, emotional disabilities, hearing impairments, mental retardation, MS, Downs Syndrome, developmental delays, strokes, Fibromyalgia Syndrome, speech impairments, and visual impairments.

Generally, due to constraints offered by space, equipment and the horses that we use, we refer those with other types of disabilities and conditions to other therapy programs nearby. However, we are happy to evaluate each potential client to see if we can meet his or her needs.

ETA routinely collaborates with several outside providers to offer private and governmental grants and scholarships to ETA students, in addition to funding through its own generous scholarship program. Individuals with MS will now also be able to receive an annual scholarship of nearly $400 for equine assisted activities at ETA!

What Does Our Therapy Program Entail?

ETA is a unique NARHA, PATH Int'l., program that designs an individualized cognitive enrichment program for each client, each quarter of the year, using two to seven books that match the student's academic level.  ETA also gives each student their own daily exercise program for use at home, which builds strength, flexibility, and endurance, as well as safety on their horse or pony!

The gentle therapy process of instruction works wonderfully well for most candidates, as we emphasize exercise, music, singing, theory and ground lessons, as well as mounted lessons. We follow NARHA, PATH Int'l., guidelines, and each potential client is screened extensively to determine whether our program can meet their needs safely and effectively. Each rider is assessed according to whether there are medical precautions and contraindications that would affect service, whether our staff is qualified to meet their needs, if our horses and ponies are appropriate, and if we have the required facilities and or equipment to meet their needs. If we cannot meet a particular client’s needs, we refer them to another program(s). A release of liability form is required, as is pre-certification from your medical professional(s). Of course, recent IEPs and therapy goal letters from PTs and OTs are vital, and should be received at least a week before class.

How Does Therapeutic Riding Work?

The benefits of therapeutic riding are as numerous as the types of disabilities and conditions the field serves, and lesson fees are reasonable. Medical research shows that students who participate in therapeutic riding can experience physical, emotional and mental rewards such as enhanced flexibility, balance and muscle strength, as well as increased confidence, patience and self-esteem. Families benefit also, as their member grows in strength and confidence, while meeting new friends (four-legged as well as two), and enjoying our beautiful countryside. Almost all of our students typically ride once a week, although those with more intense therapy needs may require two to three sessions per week. We find that the time invested in grooming and tacking/untacking the horse, as well as in learning valuable lessons about nutrition, stable management, equine health and riding theory is at least as valuable -- in terms of fine and gross motor skills, a general knowledge base, and self-confidence -- as is the actual mounted lesson. Thus, we typically ask our riders to invest a half-hour in ground exercises and in preparing the horse for class, 45 minutes in the mounted lesson and game, and 15 minutes in cooling down/untacking and grooming the horse or pony before he/she is put away. Each client is given an individually-designed exercise program for at-home use, and a cognitive enrichment plan. Clients, who need work on balance and sequencing, coordination and or strength, also enjoy the mini-tramp, a Kangaroo ball, or other apparatus, as well as riding. These aides reinforce the riding therapy, as well as that of other professionals.

How Does One Register?

Click Here to register. Some individuals may request an initial evaluation, if they or our staff are unsure as to whether or not therapeutic riding is indicated. This costs $100.00 and takes about two hours. Click Here to register for the Evaluation. Instruction is offered in a series of 12 lessons, prepaid in advance. Scholarships are available, and usually require a week to process. Click Here to read more about scholarships. For those applying late, refunds are given to successful scholarship applicants, such that fees are reduced retroactively based on the family’s ability to pay. Please call about scholarships if you think you might qualify, and wish the forms, at (301) 972-7833.

Please review this letter and the rest of the website carefully. If you have questions after examining these materials, please feel free to give us a call. You may now register for classes, volunteer training, and apprentice staff positions online. Please note that all application materials and prepayments should be received by ETA at least two weeks before the start of class to ensure proper lesson planning, insurance coverage, and registration. It is also vital that three hours of parental training be completed prior to their child’s actual instruction, so that if our scheduled training dates and times do not work for you, and if you decide to enroll, we can schedule a separate time for you alone for a nominal fee.

Please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions. We offer lessons in the mornings, early and late afternoons, and on Saturday. We try to reserve the Saturday sessions for parents who simply cannot bring a child during the week. Each session of 12 lessons is pre-paid and allows up to two make-ups, scheduled at mutually convenient times during that session. I think that you would truly enjoy our farm and critters. I look forward to speaking with you soon!

Carol Rae Hansen, Ph.D.



Photo Credit: Carol Rae Hansen, 2008 All rights reserved

If God put the rainbows right in the clouds themselves, each one of
us in the direst and dullest and most dreadful and dreary moments can see
a possibility of hope.
Each one of us has the chance to be a rainbow in somebody's cloud
Maya Angelou, Speech, Conference at Weber State University, Utah, 1997

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Photo Credit: Alicia Agnew,
2008 All rights reserved

I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.
Laura Wilder


Photo Credit: Carol Rae Hansen,
2008 All rights reserved

There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart . . . pursue those.
Augustana College (SD)

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Photo Credit: David Evans,
2008 All rights reserved

A mind may change with each new
day, but the spirit
and the heart are
as unchanging as
the tides
Owen D. Young

Battersea Norfolk, Morgan National Therapy Horse of the Year and NARHA Region II Horse of the Year

Photo Credit: (c) Carol Rae Hansen,
all rights reserved 2012

Don't let what
you cannot do interfere with what you can do!
John Wooden




"When I bestride him,
I soar, I am a hawk;
He trots the air;
The Earth sings as he touches it;
The basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the Pipe of Hermes;
He is pure air and fire."
William Shakespeare

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Photo Credit (c) 2012
Carol Rae Hansen,
All Rights Reserved