EquiVenture was started 25 years ago by Lola Cooley and Bonnie Flynn. Lola had the therapeutic riding program experience and Bonnie had the facility and a suitable mount. The program grew from there. Lola has since moved to Pennsylvania and Bonnie continues to teach special needs children using horses. Employed professionally as a nurse, her passion is with these students as they make great strides with this unconventional therapy. With 2 children & 3 grandchildren, she has been able to share the fun of horses camping riding crafting...endless joys and blessings.
EquiVenture focuses on improving each of our riders' potential through their equine experience. We help them meet the physical, mental, behavioral, and social challenges of their special needs.
EquiVenture Therapeutic Riding Inc. (EVTR) is a provincially incorporated, non-profit organization which offers disabled individuals in the Kokomo Indiana area the opportunity to enjoy the therapeutic and recreational benefits of horseback riding. Two women, Lola Cooley and Bonnie Flynn originally started it in 1993. Since then, they have both moved away (with Bonnie moving back in 2001) and the program is run by a group of volunteers. All of us are committed to continuing the program and helping it to grow and prosper. This program is one of the very few in the country that does not charge a fee for its services. EVTR is fully staffed by volunteers and depends entirely on donations to support the program.
• Mentally Impaired
• Visual and Hearing Impaired
• Down Syndrome
• Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
• Muscular Dystrophy (MD)
• Cerebral Palsy (CP)
• Spina Bifida
• Learning Disabled
• Cystic Fibrosis
• Brain Injuries
• Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder
How It Works
We provide a program of therapeutic horseback riding for persons with disabilities. To create a clearinghouse of information which may be of particular value and interest to disabled persons, their parents and private and public agencies and institutions with respect to the uses and benefits of therapeutic horseback riding.
Therapeutic riding is based on the beneficial movement of the horse. The three-dimensional, rhythmical motion of the horse stimulates and works the muscles of the rider. The horse's gait is almost identical to the human gait and because a horse's walking stride is similar in length and cadence to a human's stride, the pelvic movement mimics the action of walking.
The riding program is based on the principles of therapeutic riding recognized by Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH Intl.). Focusing on ability rather than disability, the program compliments the treatment of physically, mentally, and emotionally disabled individuals. It follows established techniques for teaching and recognized standards for safety. Classes are held in an arena, either indoor or outdoor (weather permitting). Lessons are conducted in small groups and last 45 minutes. In addition to the instructor, the rider is assisted by a leader for the horse and up to two side-walkers for each client. Games, music, horse care, and competitions supplement exercises and riding basics.
From the beginning, riders learn balance, coordination and self-assurance while receiving therapeutic muscle stimulation. Horseback riding strengthens muscles and improves concentration. Discipline and self-respect grow as the rider's mastery of the sport grows. Riding also expands and reinforces speech.
The riders sit up taller, they speak more clearly, their self-confidence increases.... the improvements are wide and varied. We have had so many parents tell us that their son/daughter would not do their stretches at home, but that is the first thing they do when they are mounted. Or that their balance, or their upper body strength is sooo much better! But the common denominator for all our riders is that they have so much fun! The children in our program get to do something that most of their friends have only dreamed of---they ride a horse! And they do it very well.
Riding sessions challenge the child mentally as well as physically. Children gain the ability to trust again and improve their ability to interact with others. Children with learning disabilities perform better in school.
Best of all, horseback riding is a 'normal' activity that provides therapy and recreation outside of a hospital or school setting. The horse becomes a non-judgmental friend and ally working toward goals while having fun.
After 25 years, we’ve seen our riders grow and flourish in our unconventional therapeutic milieu.
Autistic children make connections and show improvement in their communication skills and ability to concentrate. Children confined to a wheelchair experience a new freedom. The unsure child's confidence builds and often the depression caused by chronic pain is eased. Increased range of motion and muscle tone, improved motor skills better balance, posture and coordination.
Dramatic improvements in spatial awareness, self-awareness and self-discipline, and most importantly...increased self-esteem have all been seen as the result of equine therapy.
One Mom stood at the rail in tears as she heard her 11-year-old daughter say; “Walk". This was her daughter's first intelligible word!
a tactically defensive, doesn't like to touch or be touched, young man that reached out and touched a volunteer.
An autistic child that interacted for the first time, participating in a game on horseback.
The little girl that tried for 4 years but did not have the courage to participate, but once she finally took the step and found the courage to start riding, her confidence and self-esteem grew exponentially.
Our Board is a 'Working Board' as opposed to a administrative group. This means we are all active volunteers in the program as well as administrators that plan, organize, develop and carry out the vision of EquiVenture Therapeutic Riding. Board meetings are held on a mutually agreeable day and time approximately 6 times a year. They are sometimes held at the activity center next to our arena located at 6086 West 250 South, Russiaville Indiana, weather permitting. At other times, member's homes or churches. These meetings are open for all members to attend. The Annual General Meeting, held in January, is open to the general public.