By Raiza Giorgi

Smiling faces and inner growth are some of the many things people will notice about the riders who participate in the Santa Ynez Valley Therapeutic Riding (SYVTR) Program. The horses that are selected for the program help all riders accomplish their goals and objectives, regardless of their age or ability.

The SYVTR’s summer Hoof ’n’ Beats summer camp will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on June 24, 26, and 28.

The program’s mission is to provide equine-assisted activities for children and adults with physical, cognitive, social, emotional or other challenges, regardless of their ability to pay.

“The horse’s gait, or walking pattern, is very similar to that of the human. Riding on a horse helps people who otherwise might have difficulty walking experience a proper form of gait. This, in turn, allows their muscles to be properly conditioned,” according to physical therapist Mary Beth Johnson.  

“It also stimulates the rider’s spinal cord and the part of the brain that controls speech.  These benefits often carry through to other aspects of their lives, so we typically see lasting results,” Johnson continued.

To watch a video of the program, log onto and search for “Walk, Trot Heal.”

SYVTR is always looking for volunteers. Anyone interested can also help by donating:

  • Fly Spray
  • Horse treats
  • New ASTM helmets
  • Horse brushes and grooming tools
  • Computer paper
  • Bottled water or cups for students and volunteers
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Silent auction Items for fundraisers each June and September

Donations can be dropped off any Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the program’s riding area at 195 Refugio Road in Santa Ynez. Email Robin at for a donation receipt.

The program also occasionally needs additional “sound, well-trained, bomb proof” horses. Anyone interested can call Peggy at 805-455-4371.

To learn more about SYVTR, log onto or follow the program on Facebook.