The therapeutic riding program at Furnace Brook Farm is rooted in the belief that all riders - regardless of cognitive, physical, emotional or social challenges - deserve the opportunity to experience the empathy and healing qualities of spending time with a horse.
Equine-assisted therapeutic activities offer an experiential approach that may include a variety of activities with the horse such as grooming, feeding, walking, equine games and riding. Horses offer a non-judgmental and empathetic presence. In partnership with therapeutic riding instructors and (where applicable) clinicians, horses can foster trust building, insight, growth and confidence for the rider.
FBF offers four options for equine therapeutic services: therapeutic riding lessons, equine-assisted mental health services, equine facilitated psychotherapy and hippotherapy.
FBF therapeutic riding instructors are certified by PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) and have the education and experience to foster a safe, secure, and enjoyable experience for riders. In addition to PATH credentialed instructors, we work with a licensed occupational therapist and a licensed certified social worker.
Therapeutic Riding Lessons
In therapeutic riding lessons, students are taught how to ride and, in the process, receive the physical and emotional benefits of riding a horse. If inclement weather occurs, students may have a ground lesson to work on their horsemanship skills such as grooming and tacking up their horse. FBF has a newly built ramp to assist our students with physical challenges.
Therapeutic riding lessons are offered in private half hour sessions for $50 or in group sessions for 45 minutes for $50. Lessons are held Monday through Saturday with three certified instructors to meet your scheduling needs. The majority of lessons are private but FBF is hoping to expand its group lessons to encourage more peer interaction with our students.
Our certified instructors work hard to create individualized lesson plans to meet the goals of our students. Each spring FBF holds a horse show for all of our participants to showcase their riding skills.
Equine Assisted Mental Health Sessions
Equine assisted mental health sessions combine the expertise of a PATH Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning (ESMHL) who is also a Massachusetts licensed riding instructor, along with the healing presence of a horse.
The inclusion of horses in the therapeutic process can help to facilitate both mental and emotional growth. Emerging research supports the inclusion of equines to help build confidence, trust and empathy, problem solving skills, impulse control, social skills, and emotional awareness within clients.
Sessions at FBF are typically one hour in length and include ground work (interacting with the horse by grooming, feeding, walking) and riding time.
Horses may mirror the emotional state of a person. This provides an opportunity for clients to maintain self awareness, feel safe and process what’s happening in the moment. The validation that horses provide can be particularly helpful when processing past experiences or emotional challenges.
Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy
Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) is a unique, experiential form of outpatient treatment for mental health, Eating Disorders, Trauma/PTSD, Addiction, and other psychosocial challenges. Accessing the sensitive, intuitive, and emotional nature of an equine “co-therapist” has proven to decrease anxiety and depression, improve physical and emotional awareness, improve social skills and increase self-confidence in both children and adults.
Psychotherapy clients are matched with an equine partner ahead of time according to height/weight, psychological need, and treatment goals. Typically, clients will stay matched with an equine partner as there are often social and relational benefits to this. However, if clinically appropriate, clients will have opportunities to work with a variety of equines and/or participate in various barn chores/activities based on clinical need.
Physical and emotional safety is the most important component of this work and as such, these sessions are only led by licensed mental health practitioners who are also PATH certified riding instructors as well as MA licensed riding instructors. Sessions typically last approximately one hour and occur during quieter barn hours to allow for minimal distraction to the psychotherapeutic process. FBF’s psychotherapists may conduct a screening process ahead of time to determine appropriateness of fit and safety for prospective clients.
Many Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy programs utilize an equine professional or ESMHL in partnership with a licensed psychotherapist. However, sessions at Furnace Brook Farm are led by experienced practitioners who are life-long horsewomen, licensed psychotherapists, as well as MA licensed riding instructors and PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors. This allows the client a closer bond with the equine as well as the therapist who is guiding and monitoring interaction with the equine. For clients who are sensitive, lack trust or have trauma histories this can make the therapeutic process feel more comfortable/accessible, ultimately making treatment more beneficial.
FBF is committed to thinking creatively around the needs of its psychotherapy clients and tailoring sessions to the needs of each client. FBF offers access to a fully equipped therapy office which doubles as a sensory room/SMART (Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment) stall. This space is designed to offer a quiet, private, and regulatory space for clients to safely engage in talk, play, or sensorimotor therapy and/or prepare for equine interaction. Additionally, other forms of psychotherapy such as CBT, DBT, Psychodynamic work and Expressive Arts Therapies are also factored into Equine Facilitated sessions. FBF is home to Katie Murphy Gordon, LCSW who offers psychotherapy sessions in conjunction with FLIHH (The Foundation for Learning and Inspiring Health and Healing) as well as JRI’s (Justice Resource Institute's) Trot On Equine Therpy program.
Hippotherapy at Furnace Brook Farm involves our licensed occupational therapist incorporating the rhythmical multidimensional movement of specially trained horses paired with a variety of therapeutic activities as a treatment strategy to address a wide range of challenges in children.
The occupational therapist works with PATH credentialed instructors, invaluable volunteers, and amazing equines to provide a safe, fun and productive treatment session.
Goals that can be addressed through a hippotherapy session include improving: balance and coordination, strength and endurance, postural control and stability, flexibility and range of motion, attention and organization, arousal and self-regulation, motor planning and body/spatial awareness, fine motor and gross motor skills, visual perceptual skills, as well as empowerment and self-confidence.
How to Enroll in Our Therapeutic Services
Please choose either option below to register. Forms include: (1) General Information (Note: In the "Goals" section of the form, please note which service in which you would like to enroll.), (2) Health History, (3) Authorization for Emergency Medical Treatment, (4) Photo & Publicity Release, and (5) Liability Release. You may choose to return your forms online OR to print the forms out, complete them, and mail (or bring them to) Furnace Brook Farm. To check lesson scheduling and ask any questions about the therapeutic services we offer, please contact us.
We encourage riders to investigate scholarships that may be available to support participation in therapeutic riding or equine assisted mental health programs.
Therapeutic Riding Lesson: $50 per half-hour private lesson or 45 minute group session.
Equine Assisted Mental Health Session: $100 per one hour or $50 per half-hour session with a PATH Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning (ESMHL) who is also a Massachusetts licensed riding instructor along with the healing presence of a horse.
Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy: $150 per one hour. Please visit FLIHH website for more information. There is an opportunity to explore a sliding scale for clients who qualify financially.
Hippotherapy: $100 per 45 minute session. FBF does not accept insurance, however we encourage clients to contact their provider as many insurance companies will reimburse for paid hippotherapy services.
Our programs are growing, welcoming new riders and gaining recognition as a South Shore therapeutic riding center. Questions? Please contact us!