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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: What is therapeutic/adaptive riding?

A: Therapeutic/adaptive riding is an equine-assisted activity that contributes positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs.  Riders can expect a safe and enjoyable environment that will help them experience the benefits of horseback riding and horsemanship skills, while working constructively on physical, cognitive, mental, and emotional challenges.  Therapeutic/adaptive riding provides benefits in the areas of health, education, sport, recreation and leisure. We strive to offer our participants the opportunity to do a safe athletic activity which, like any sport, requires them to develop good balance, muscle strength and coordination.  The accepting nature and tolerant personality of the horse encourages riders to test the limits of their abilities and learn to make good choices under the guidance of specially trained and qualified instructors and volunteers. Therapeutic/adaptive riding consists of activities performed while mounted on the horse in lessons conducted by specially trained instructors with the help of trained volunteers.  Individuals learn equestrian skills while working on cognitive, emotional, social or behavioral skills. Riders also work on improving fine and gross motor skills, balance, strength, coordination, proprioception, tactile senses and teamwork. The accepting nature and tolerant personality of the horse encourages riders to test the limits of their abilities and learn to make good choices under the guidance of specially trained and qualified instructors and volunteers.  A prescription is not required.

Q: What are the benefits of therapeutic riding?

A: There are many benefits that riders experience through therapeutic riding. Riders adjusting how the reins are held can increase fine motor skills. Riders getting on and off the horse can increase their gross motor skills. While the horse moves forward and sways side to side, the riders involuntarily use many core muscles than you would normally use by walking or sitting, therefore improving their core strength. Riding also helps improve balance and coordination, social skills, and sensory integration. The whole experience can also improve a rider’s confidence while they conquer their fears.

Q: What are the qualifications for riding at LTRC?

A:  All are welcome at LTRC.  Participants must have medical clearance from their physician with no contraindications to riding in order to participate. Siblings of special needs riders and beginner to intermediate recreational riders are welcome as well.

Q: What ages are served at LTRC?

A: Lessons at LTRC are available to riders starting at age 3.  There is no age maximum.

Q: Is there a weight limit?

A: A weight limit policy is imperative to ensure the safety of our horses, staff and volunteers while mounting and dismounting or in the event of an emergency dismount.  LTRC maintains a strict weight limit of 190 pounds. Accommodation of a rider at the top of the weight limit is dependent on the availability of an appropriate horse, staff and volunteers.  

Q: What safety precautions are practiced at LTRC?

A:  Safety is our #1 priority!  LTRC Instructors are certified/trained therapeutic riding instructors.  LTRC volunteers are required to go through a mandatory orientation and training, must be at least 14 years old, and are subject to a criminal background check.  All riders are required to wear approved helmets. LTRC has first aid kits and fire extinguishers located throughout the facility and smoking on site is prohibited.  Riders mount from ramps and are helped off the horse by the instructor. All riders have a leader and up to two sidewalkers at all times during their lesson.

Q: What safety and adaptive equipment do you use?

A:  Safety stirrups with quick release bands are used on all saddles. Adaptive equipment including gait belts and vests are used for support, as well as speciality reins and saddle pads.  Depending on the rider’s needs, typical English or Western saddles, vaulting surcingles or modified saddles that offer extra support and stability are used.

All riders get on their horse with the help of the instructor and volunteers from the mounting ramp or the electronic lift system.  The ramp allows ambulatory and non-ambulatory riders to be at the same height as the horse’s back and not have to mount from the ground.  Riders are then assisted in dismounting, one at a time, with assistance from the instructor.

Q: How is a horse chosen for a rider?

A: Horses are picked based on the participant’s size, therapeutic needs and the availability of horses.  We make every attempt to keep horse and rider together for the duration of their session, but that cannot be guaranteed. LTRC horses are specially trained therapy horses, chosen for their calm, patient demeanor. They have a personality that is accepting of diverse situations including, but not limited to, a rider that may not be balanced, is very vocal or uses a wheelchair or walker.

Q: What happens during a lesson?

A: Riders arrive 15 minutes prior to their lesson, get their helmet and go to the arena.  Riders will be called into the mounting area one at a time and the instructor will assist with mounting the horse from the mounting ramp or lift.  All riders have a leader for their horse and up to 2 sidewalkers depending on how much assistance the rider needs. Sidewalkers walk next to the rider to offer hand-over-leg stability or as a spotter to offer verbal support.  From playing basketball to learning how to steer, from playing tag, bowling, letter scavenger hunts, completing puzzles and word games, lessons are focused on safety and fun.  Riders work on their individual goals during group and individual activities and have so much fun, they don’t realize they are working.  At the end of the lesson, riders are helped one by one off their horse and escorted out of the arena.

Q: Can family and friends watch lessons?

A: Family and friends are always welcome to watch lessons from the viewing area outside the indoor or outdoor arena.  Caregivers must remain on site during lessons and children must be supervised.

Q: How much do the sessions cost?

A: Lothlorien offers 5 or 6 week sessions.  Riders ride for one-hour per week on the same day and time in a group lesson with 3-6 riders.  

  • 5-week session: $187.50

  • 6-week session: $225

Q: What is the payment policy?

A: A $50 deposit to hold spot(s) is due as soon as possible after registering.  The balance of session fee is due on or before the first day of the session. Full payment for lessons are due before services are performed.  

Q: Do you provide tuition assistance?

A: LTRC offers a financial needs-based tuition assistance program and we strive to assist any rider who cannot self-pay due to their financial situation.  Assistance is available on a limited basis and awarded/renewed annually. For more information and application call 716-655-1335 or visit lothlorientrc.org.

Q: Do you accept insurance or third party payments?

A: Services at LTRC are NOT covered by health insurance, however some insurance companies accept our program as a reimbursable expense.  Check with your provider.

Third party reimbursements, scholarships or awards are the responsibility of the participant to apply for and acquire. Such awards can be used toward tuition prepaid by the participant.

Q: Are lessons provided in all weather conditions?

A: Lessons are held in all weather EXCEPT extreme heat, extreme cold, thunder and lightning or other inclement weather (i.e. freezing or heavy rain, flash flooding, high winds, heat or cold advisory etc.).  Lessons are cancelled at at the discretion of LTRC and a makeup or credit is provided. Lessons are held in the outdoor arena whenever possible and moved to the indoor arena when needed.    

Q: What is the makeup/credit policy?

A:  A makeup or credit will be provided if a lesson is cancelled by LTRC.  Lessons missed by a rider for any reason will not be offered a makeup or credit.  Sessions are not pro-rated.

Q: What should riders wear?

A: Participants should dress for the weather and wear sunscreen as needed.  Long pants (jeans or khakis) are recommended during lessons regardless of the weather.  Open-toed shoes are not permitted and riders will not be allowed to ride while wearing them. Participants can wear barn or riding boots, hiking boots, or sneakers.  Shorts, skirts and dresses are not recommended.

Q: Does LTRC provide helmets?

A: All participants must wear an ASTM-approved helmet while riding, grooming, or working with the horses. LTRC provides helmets, however you can purchase your own ASTM-approved riding helmet.  Brands such as Troxel, One K and Ovation are affordable, quality helmets that can be ordered on-line or found at most equestrian supply stores.

Q: Can I be a volunteer at Lothlorien?

A: ABSOLUTELY!  As a non-profit, we rely on volunteers to walk with riders, but there are times that scheduled sidewalkers cannot attend lessons.  In order to accommodate all riders and to ensure that clients ride on a consistent basis, we are always looking for caregivers who are interested in sidewalking during a session with their rider or with another rider in the lessons they attend.  You can be a sidewalker for an entire session or sidewalk as needed as a substitute. Sidewalkers are asked to walk for most of the lesson and at times jog or walk briskly, while assuring their rider is safely seated on their horse. No experience necessary.  Training provided. Please let us know when you register if you are interested.