PETS is a skill-based horseback riding program that provides riders with many benefits. Used as a recreational therapy, horseback riding has proven effective in dealing with:

  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Down Syndrome
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Mental Retardation
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Other handicaps

Through riding, students can improve or develop their:

  • Attention Span
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Emotions
  • Listening Skills
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle Tone
  • Self Esteem

PETS calls our riders “students” since we focus on creating a safe learning environment – inside and outside of the ring – and are always learning. Students begin the process by contacting PETS to learn specific details of the screening process and required documentation.

It is important that once necessary requirements are met, the student (as well as parent, friend or care-giver) understand important lesson basics:

  • Call the barn ASAP if you will be late or unable to attend your lesson.
  • Arrive 15 minutes prior to your lesson for warm-up exercises and mounting preparation.
  • Be properly dressed; long pants, hard toe/sole shoes; no dangling jewelry.
  • Follow all instructor directions.
  • Participate, if at all physically possible, in cleanup at the end of your lesson.

What if it is too hot? What if it is raining?

Bad weather is hard to predict. Given that many of our students come from different parts of the county we understand that while it may be dark and pouring in College Park, it can be sunny in Upper Marlboro. Our general weather rules are:

  • If you believe your disability will be hard to manage due to the weather, please call the barn ASAP to let us know you will not be attending your lesson.
  • In case of severe weather you will be notified if all barn activities are cancelled as soon as possible. We follow WTOP/WJLA and their weather updates. Follow PETS on Facebook for weather and other updates.
  • Expect to have a barn lesson if light rain or high heat index prohibits riding. Our instructors have many lesson plans available that don’t include riding.
  • Horse care is a constant, daily responsibility. Just because riding might be cancelled doesn’t mean that we can’t use your help with horse and barn care. Some of these duties can help with your development and offer a way you can give back to PETS for what we provide to you.
  • Stay hydrated. The best time to start drinking water before your riding lesson is as soon as you wake up – not when you get to the barn. Water is always provided, but smart hydration takes place at the beginning of each hot, sunny day.

Our program is run 100% by volunteers who choose to give you their valuable time. Please make the best use of that time by coming prepared.


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