Equestrian Center

Equine Assisted Programs and Therapeutic Riding

The Delores Barr Weaver Therapeutic Equestrian Center offers therapeutic horseback riding and equine-assisted activities, just 10 minutes from downtown Jacksonville. It houses four horses in the welcoming Dorothy and Lee Thomas Equestrian Barn, with an adjacent viewing area for parents and siblings under a sprawling live oak.

Equine therapy helps children and adults with intellectual and developmental differences (IDDs) reach their full potential by improving confidence, flexibility, balance, posture and muscle strength as well as psychological, cognitive, behavioral, social, and communication skills.

In late February 2020, NFSSE will offer therapeutic riding lessons and groundwork activities for children and adults with IDDs after school and on weekends. NFSSE summer camps will give children with IDD and typically developing children the opportunity to come together at a week of horse camp.

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Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic Riding lessons are equestrian skill-based lessons for children and adults with IDD to help them reach their full potential. The focus of the lessons is skill development and progression while improving the rider’s physical, cognitive, emotional and/or social skills. Taught by a therapeutic riding instructor, and assisted by volunteers, the private lessons are 1 hour long. As much as possible, the riders participate in pre-mounted and post-mounted horse care. Scheduling will be available in February 2020 for both North Florida School of Special Education students and community-based riders.


Groundwork Activities

Groundwork Activity lessons are designed to focus on equestrian skills, such as horse care, grooming, leading, lunging or long-lining. Sometimes called “unmounted lessons,” groundwork does not involve riding the horse, but rather seeks to further the student’s physical, cognitive, emotional and/or social development while he or she interacts with the horses on the ground. Students who participate in our groundwork programs find them engaging and rewarding, often naming increased confidence and developing a special bond with the horse as key benefits. Groundwork is also great exercise! Groundwork activities are available during the school hours only for North Florida School of Special Education students.