Frequently Asked Questions

Horse Back Riding for disabled

What are the benefits of riding and working with horses?
While riding a horse, riders are given the opportunity to feel freedom and power through movement. As the horse walks, the movement is transferred to the rider, providing a combination of sensory, motor, and neurological stimulation. This translates to stronger muscles, better balance and coordination, and improved gait. Just as important as the physical benefits, greater self-confidence and self-esteem can be achieved through the freedom of movement.

Who can this help
Individuals with physical, neurological, behavioral, and emotional issues related to Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Coordination Disorder, Developmental Disability, Dyspraxia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Sensory Integration Disorder, autism and many others.

What are the goals of equine assisted activities?
All Walk On participants are evaluated prior to admission to the program, at which time, goals for equine assisted activities are determined based on the specific needs of the individual. Goals may include, but are not limited to improving physical skills, cognitive skills, social and emotional development and behavior.

How about a weight limit?
To protect our therapy horses, Walk On has a policy that limits the weight carried in a session. Each participant whose weight exceeds 175 pounds will be considered individually and evaluated to determine eligibility. This weight includes the rider as well as the weight of the saddle and tack.

Is this safe?
Yes, Walk On utilizes several important safety practices:

  • Each horse is screened to ensure the appropriateness of both the quality of movement and a good working temperament.
  • Walk On enforces a number of humane policies including limiting horse work hours and limiting the amount of weight they carry.
  • Instructors are are PATH Int’l (Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International) certified and adhere to the medical guidelines set by PATH.
  • When on the horse, all participants wear safety helmets.
  • All participants start with a leader and two side walkers when riding.

What about helmets?
Walk On is a PATH member center and is thus bound to follow their safety policies, including the mandatory use of ASTM-SEI approved helmets when on or near horses. Walk On encourages all participants to purchase their own helmets, for obvious health and safety purposes. Consult with the instructor regarding appropriate and approved safety helmets available.

How does a participant get on to the horse?
Walk On has specially adapted equipment which enable the participant to be able to mount the horse, including an ADA accessible ramp, special lift, as well as adapted mounting blocks for those who need assistance.

What are the age limits?
Walk On accepts children, adolescents and adults. All participants are evaluated prior to acceptance in the program. Children as young as three years and adults into their senior years have all participated. The program is designed to meet the specific needs of the participant.

How often does a student ride?
Most students ride once a week, in groups of two (for 30 minutes) or up to four (for one hour). Each one hour lesson includes grooming and tacking the horse followed by the riding session. Riding sessions are typically 8-14 weeks long and are conducted throughout the year.

How can we get started in the program?
If you are interested in being a participant in our program, go to our “Home Page” and click on “Ride with Us”, then click “Become a Participant”.

  • Review the information about our therapeutic riding program.
  • If our program sounds like a match for your rider call the Walk On office  at (847) 381-4231 to schedule an evaluation.

Do you use ponies or horses?
Walk On uses both ponies and horses in the program. The important aspect is that the equines possess the characteristics necessary for the program. The quality of movement a horse provides assists in making the riding experience more beneficial.

What does it cost?

  • The initial evaluation (conducted by our licensed Occupational Therapist) is $150.
  • Subsequent evaluations are $75, necessary when (if there was a change in medical status, after an absence of two trimesters, or upon the request of the instructor, physician, or parent/guardian). A written report is available after an evaluation.
  • Walk On offers private, semi-private and group lessons, depending upon the ability of the participant. Sessions vary in length from 6 weeks to 14 weeks. Walk On runs four sessions in a calendar year (Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall). Please call the Walk On office for current pricing.
  • Walk On does not accept health insurance, nor are we able to bill your insurance company.

What happens if my child is sick, or unable to make their lesson?
If you are unable to attend a scheduled lesson, please make every effort to notify the instructors by calling the barn at (847) 842-8349.  Sufficient notice is needed so that we can communicate with staff and volunteers.   Based on our flat rate fee, client cancellations are not refundable.  We do not offer make-up lessons.

What is therapeutic driving?
Therapeutic driving helps with balance, upper body strength, visual perception, following directions and many other skill areas. Driving with a trained horse and a special carriage, is another way to enjoy equestrian activities for those who may be unable to ride due to current weight, the presence of riding precautions or contraindications, discomfort while riding, or simply because an individual wants to enjoy an outdoor activity of this type. Driving activities can even occur if you use a wheelchair as Walk On is able to transfer participants into the carriage with the use of a special lift. Driving occurs in a 1:1 lesson with a specially trained and PATH certified driving instructor.

How do I volunteer at Walk On?
If you are 13 years or older and available at least once a week go to the click here.

  • Review the volunteer handbook
  • Complete the registration paperwork.
  • Attend one orientation session.
  • Orientation sessions are held twice a month at the Walk On barn from 3:00-5:00pm (click here to view orientation dates).
  • Call the office (847) 381-4231 or email us at WalkOnFarm@comcast.net to sign up
  • Bring the signed paperwork.

What happens to lessons in inclement weather?
The Walk On program operates in a modern facility. The indoor arena is heated and therefore comfortable for riders in cold weather with appropriate clothing.

  • Walk On will cancel or shorten lessons due to hazardous road conditions and/or extreme temperatures in the Barrington area.
  • Every effort is made to notify participants in a timely manner.
    • We encourage participants and volunteers to register with the Emergency Closing Center (emergencyclosingcenter.com) for the email notifications moments after we close.
    • Become a Facebook friend of Walk On for up to date information.
    • Follow us on Instagram for up to date information.-
  • Walk On will cancel lessons when the temperature is over 95 degrees at lesson time and if the temperature and humidity is deemed too extreme for participant and/or horse comfort.
  • If Walk On cancels a lesson due to weather related or safety concerns (power failure) a make-up session will be offered to the participant with the stipulation that the lesson be made up within the current riding session. Refunds will not be offered.

Is special clothing necessary?
The only special attire is the ASTM-SEI approved helmet. Dress for the weather. Participants are required to wear long pants/breeches for all mounted activities. No shorts or sleeveless shirts (tank tops) of any kind are permitted. Hard soled shoes or gym shoes are required, no sandals are allowed.

Can we observe a riding session?
You are welcome to observe a participants riding lesson. Please call the office to make an appointment. All who observe must remain in the viewing room. All are asked to sign our visitors log and follow the posted rules. Please contact the instructor regarding confidentiality.

How does Walk On support this program?
Walk On is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization. Since our beginning in 2006, Walk On has attempted to keep our fees affordable so more people can participate. Walk On does not receive any support from the federal or state government. The riding fees are not covered by most health insurance plans. Our goal is to not turn anyone away due to inability to pay. Our participants are required to pay one third of the total cost for the program. Additional dollars are raised by the generosity of our supporters via personal donations and company match programs, quarterly fundraisers, and grants from various corporations and foundations.

How do I get additional information?
Finish checking out our website or call us (847) 381-4231.