Program Eligibility Requirements Policy

The potential rider must have a diagnosed disability which is proven by:

  1. Eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) of Supplemental Security Disability Income (SSDI)…..OR
  2. Exceptional Education Needs as demonstrated through a Multi-disciplinary Team Evaluation and Individual Education Plan with the rider’s school….OR
  3. Physician’s Referral with documentation of temporary or chronic disability …..OR
  4. Physical Disability requiring active Physical Therapy; Motor Disorder requiring Occupational therapy Interventions; Verbal Pathology requiring intervention by a Speech Therapist…..OR
  5. Is employed at a Sheltered Workshop or in Supportive Employment. 

Riders may not be eligible to participate if:

  1. It has been determined that movement activity will cause a decrease in the potential rider’s function, an increase in pain or generally aggravate the individual’s medical condition.
  2. If the individual’s adaptive equipment needs or our environment will aggravate a rider’s condition.
  3. For the safety of our riders, horses, and volunteers, if a rider’s weight exceeds 180 pounds, he or she will be eligible to receive ground services only, which involve education, grooming, and leading. 

   Because mounted activities always present the potential for a fall, the rider, parent or guardian must understand that such a fall may cause greater functional impairment than was originally present. The possibility of a fall should be given careful consideration, and may lead to the informed decision that therapeutic riding is not the activity of choice.
Working around horses (i.e., grooming, leading, lounging etc…) involves risk. The potential rider, or the rider’s parent/guardian must understand that risk. An understanding of the inherent risk may lead to an informed decision not to participate.

Accreditation, Certification and Safety Standards

Free S.P.I.R.I.T. Riders, Inc.is accredited and insured through the Professional association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International (PATH, Int.) which establishes safety standards and teaching techniques for member operating centers.
The accreditation process involves a review of the Free S.P.I.R.I.T. Riders, Inc. facility, horses, instructors, volunteers, special equipment and administrative procedures, Each category is reviewed and suggestions are made to help Free S.P.I.R.I.T. Riders, Inc. work toward the highest possible level of accreditation.
Instructor Recognition involves testing the potential instructor on equine science and knowledge of different disabilities as the disabilities apply to equine-facilitated activities. Instructors can obtain one of three levels of recognition: Registered, Certified, or Master Instructor.
As a PATH accredited center, Free S.P.I.R.I.T. Riders, Inc. must complete and maintain their accreditation status within a specified time period. Beginning in 1995, all PATH centers were required to show that their instructors have achieved at least the minimum level of NARHA instructor recognition when applying for accreditation.