In 1995, a group of individuals from the equestrian and health care communities came together to discuss a dream. By 1996, Stable Hands was formed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable corporation. The mission was to provide equine assisted activities and therapy (EAAT) to children and adults living with disabilities in Siskiyou County. On May 12, 1997, the one day a week pilot program was launched. The instructors and therapists had planned carefully, volunteers and horses were trained, and Stable Hands’ first 4 riders arrived, each for a 1 hour private session. It was a grand success!
In 1999, Stable Hands became a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (previously called the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association) Premier Accredited Center, with two PATH certified instructors and one Occupational Therapist. EAAT is now offered 2 days per week.
Stable Hands operated out of the director’s backyard arena from 1997—2004. As the number of clients grew, so did the need for 3 days per week operation, over 30 volunteers, and 3 certified instructors, and in 2005, a move to the Montague Rodeo Grounds. Within a few years, the program nearly doubled in size. In 2009, we were generously offered the use of 2 beautiful ranches with indoor arenas and areas for trail rides. For the 1st time, Stable Hands was able to avoid cancellation of activities due to inclement weather. A 4th instructor was added.
Also in 2009, we offered a new program for wounded Veterans, called “Horses helping Heroes”. Our pilot program began with 2 Veterans and has grown to 18 in 2015.
Our Adaptive Riding program now consists of two 8-week sessions in the Spring and Fall, and one 2-week session with two-hour lessons in the Summer and the Horses helping Heroes program consists of three 8 week sessions. We serve 40 — 60 clients with private and group lessons. We annually train 40 —60 volunteers who are the backbone of our organization. These dedicated community members serve at least 1/2 day per week fulfilling numerous roles. We raise money to support the majority of our program costs through the generosity of individuals, businesses, service groups and foundations.