(Credit and Thanks: Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association)

Saddle up

CTRA's program offers a diverse range of highly individualized services intended to meet the unique abilities, skills, needs, and objectives of each participant. From first-contact experiences to long-term achievements, we strive to create a program that supports each individual journey. Services intentionally intersect to form a continuum of participation, allowing for emerging circumstances and dynamic goals. 

Our services include: 

  • Therapeutic Riding - a therapeutic intervention utilizing the horse's movement and equestrian principles. 
  • Para-Equestrian Sport - a progression from therapeutic riding offering opportunities from introductory to elite para-sport competition. 
  • Adapted Equestrian Vaulting (a.k.a. Therapeutic Vaulting) - a natural extension of therapeutic riding, blends the traditions of dance and gymnastics with equestrian sport in a team-based setting. Learn more about equestrian vaulting with this video, and adapted equestrian vaulting here
  • Therapeutic Horsemanship - an unmounted therapeutic service utilizing equine interactions and stable management principles (often used as an alternative experience or progression towards mounted work). 
  • Stable Management Vocational Development - builds upon therapeutic horsemanship to develop transferable workplace skills for persons with disabilities/barriers to employment.  
  • Horse Camps - provided during spring and summer breaks for children of all abilities.
  • Community Riding Lessons - A fundraising initiative that welcomes clients without a referral (learn more)


Program participants are persons with special needs usually referred to the program by medical professionals (e.g. physicians, occupational/physical therapists). In cases of “secondary” referrals for mental health/psycho-social supports, referrals may come from community service navigators (e.g. counsellors, teachers, social workers). 

History and benefits:

Therapeutic riding has roots in ancient Greece and became formalized as a therapy for rehabilitating soldiers returning from the Great War. Long recognized for its therapeutic value in Europe, by the 1980s standardized therapeutic riding was beginning to take shape in North America.

Today participants are referred to the program by medical professionals such as family physicians, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. Significant evidence supports the tremendous benefit that these services provide for physical outcomes (strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, reduced spasticity, etc.) as well as behavioral/emotional goals (self-control, independence, confidence, empowerment, etc.). Therapeutic riding and equine-based therapies are similarly associated with improved attention skills related to classroom learning and academic performance. Connecting everything is the undeniable social impact for participants as they form important social connections with peers, teams, and role-models. 


All of CTRA's instructors are certified by the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA) - the national governing body for Therapeutic Riding. Many Instructors carry additional certification under Equine Canada - the national governing body for horse sport and Adapted Equestrian Vaulting Instructors are dually certified by the Equestrian Vaulting Association of BC.

The Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association remains the only CanTRA facility in British Columbia accredited as an "Examination and Training Centre," the highest certification tier available. CTRA is also the only therapeutic riding centre on Vancouver Island equipped with a lift to accommodate persons with severe mobility restrictions (e.g. participants in wheelchairs). 

Contact us today to learn more about our services! 

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