“When walking is difficult, riding a horse is like being in a dream."

-Judy, Client

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At Equestrian Connection, our program portfolio was designed to fill the service gaps that exist in the special needs community today.

As a result, in addition to providing hippotherapy and therapeutic riding therapy services; we offer more than seventeen (17) programs--from art and massage therapy to job training and even birthday parties.

Led by clinically-licensed occupational and physical therapists and a professional and experienced staff of clinicians and instructors, the Equestrian Connection team works tirelessly to meet our client needs.

“Best Days Happen Here” is more than a marketing slogan. It represents how Equestrian Connection clients, our clinical team and the entire Equestrian Connection support staff respond after participating in and/or leading the outcomes-based programs listed below.


Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding

Equestrian Connection Hippotherapy/Therapeutic Riding Program. Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the movements of the horse as part of an integrated treatment plan to improve functional outcomes for clients.   In Therapeutic Riding, certified Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) instructors teach riding skills and horsemanship to empower riders with new skills and help improve their self-esteem while growing stronger. 

Through the use of hippotherapy, a foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing, which can be generalized to a wide range of daily activities. For example, the horse's gait provides a rhythmic motion that simulates the pelvic sway that occurs during walking. Therefore, the motion felt in riding the horse could improve the client's ability to walk. Also as a horse moves, it continually challenges the rider to make small adjustments in order to maintain balance and posture; this strengthens the rider. It is even more challenging when the rider is asked to perform a movement while the horse is in motion which often stretches and further strengthens the rider. Another advantage of the use of a horse is that the horse usually engages a client so that they do not even feel like they are working; smiles are often seen on the faces of our clients and they are able to relax and interact with others in ways that they usually don't. In lives that are often as difficult those of our clients, it is rewarding to provide therapy, happiness and success at the same time. Clients work individually with licensed physical, occupational and speech therapists to achieve their personal clinical goals while on horseback. Our twenty two therapy horses provide a wide range of movements, gaits and girths to customize our clients' sessions. For more information about the use of horse as means of therapy, see: http://www.americanhippotherapyassociation.org

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696

Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy

Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy is an experiential therapy where participants learn about themselves and others through horses. By participating in mounted and/or non-mounted activities with the horse and then discussing feelings, behaviors and patterns, participants learn to overcome fear and build confidence. Just as we do, horses experience a large variety of emotions, are intuitive and social animals with distinct personalities, attitudes and moods. Horses can demonstrate and teach self-awareness, honest communication, trust, healthy boundaries, leadership, patience, assertiveness, play, affection, nurturance and more. They have the ability to mirror exactly what human body language is telling them and therefore, provide us with metaphors and lessons about ourselves to help facilitate change.

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696

Art Therapy

Since 2006, the Equestrian Connection Art Therapy Program has furthered the organization’s vision to improve the quality of life for individuals with special needs. By using the creative process of art making, Equestrian Connection's Art Therapy Program helps enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of every age and need. 

Equestrian Connection believes that artistic self-expression offers a wealth of positive benefits including reduced anxiety, conflict resolution assistance,increased flexibility, expression, and communication, sensory and emotional regulation, and self-confidence/self-awareness improvement. At Equestrian Connection, the physicality of horseback riding is complemented by an arts-based expressive therapy.  Individual and group art therapy is offered. 

A studio-based program, exhibitions are offered to our artists. Displayed at our center, Creative Connections, an annual, semi-permanent exhibit showcases our clients' artwork, honoring their creative growth and expression. A free-of-charge community art group also meets on occasion to create artwork that focuses on beautifying our center and fundraising. 

The Equestrian Connection Art Therapy Program is directed by Julie Ludwick, a board-certified art therapist and licensed clinical professional counselor in the State of Illinois. Julie owns a Master of Arts in art therapy from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and uses her art making to examine thoughts and questions in her life and work.

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696

Massage Therapy

Parents, caregivers and/or clients can enjoy the benefits of a therapeutic massage from our certified massage therapist, Jan, with Sonny her therapy dog nearby. Individuals can choose from a chair massage or full body massage and relax for 30, 60 or 90 minutes.

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696

Stable-ity™ Therapy Program

Helps Improve Ones Outlook on Life.

Individuals dealing with addiction, depression or trauma can benefit from the amazing impact of Equine Assisted Therapy. Led by psychologist, Colette Collins, social workers use a combination of riding therapy and non-mounted activities to help clients deal with their challenges in a non-clinical setting.  Our partnership with NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) we are able to reach out to local communities to provide this valuable service. 

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696

Re-Connect Program

Helps Combat Veterans Rebuild Trust

Veterans can convene at Equestrian Connection to connect with each other and their favorite four-legged therapists to re-build an alliance of trust with  their favorite horse, counselors, staff and colleagues! Riding, grooming and other activities are available for individuals and veterans who prefer group therapy settings. Families are also encouraged to attend.  Please call to inquire about available times and to schedule your visit!

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696

Balance for Life

Balance for Life incorporates multidimensional riding, grooming/tacking and a follow-up group meeting. Participants ride for a half hour and meet as a group for the final half hour, after the specially designed exercises to improve their coordination, balance and posture conclude. This therapeutic riding session is beneficial for those with walking difficulties because the rhythmic movements of the human pelvis while horseback riding are similar to those that occur while walking. Variations in the horse's speed, stride and direction help improve coordination balance and posture, while promoting cognitive stimulation and the emotional joy of riding a horse. Riders also work on cognitive issues such as memory, problem solving and sequencing skills. 

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696

Silver spurs

Silver Spurs is Equestrian Connection's non-mounted program designed for participants with Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia and memory loss. In an assisted manner, small groups are engaged in horse-centered groundwork activities at the barn. These weekly interventions include  grooming, leading, haltering and bonding with our horses. The benefits include increased self-confidence, engagement with their environment, pleasure and physical activity while reducing stress, agitation, and isolation. Having an opportunity to bond with the horses is a very powerful and memorable experience. 

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696

Wranglers work to ride

Sponsored by a grant from the Helen Brach Foundation, the Wranglers program is offered for a small fee.  It is a non-mounted program designed to teach job skills to teens  and adults with special needs. This is a supervised work-to-ride program where participants are involved in many aspects of the barn by working on tasks in the barn, the garden,  the office and all throughout the facility.

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696

Therapeutic vaulting

Equestrian Connection Flyers is a therapeutic vaulting program. Similar to gymnastics on horseback, vaulters perform movements on the back of the horse while someone controls the movement of the horse on the ground. Vaulters perform movements as simple as sitting without holding on or more elaborate moves such as kneeling or standing on the horse. The therapeutic value is immense as it promotes strength, flexibility, balance and coordination through the physical moves while simultaneously building courage, confidence, trust, patience and critical thinking. 

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696

Family Night at Equestrian Connection

Family Night at Equestrian Connection is a special event where a family can have a bonding experience at Equestrian Connection all to themselves! Whether you choose to create new memories with a loved one in hospice care, or do something that is fun and fully accessible; Equestrian Connection will build an evening to remember—just for your special family. Ride together, engage in a group project, order in a pizza, paint your names on one of our ponies, go on a hayride, fish in the lake, build a snowman. Do any of these or all of them. Equestrian Connection staff will help you create an evening or day of fun and togetherness for you and your family. 

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696


While Equestrian Connection specializes in therapy rides, our doors are also open to anyone in the community who enjoys four-legged friends as much as we do. Birthday parties can be tailored to the specific request of the birthday girl/boy or adult, but typically consist of riding, grooming, craft making, eating, and a scavenger hunt. A birthday party at Equestrian Connection is sure to be memorable and fun for everyone! 

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696

Field trips

Field trips can be a great way to develop team building and foster development for special needs organizations.  Field trips at Equestrian Connection include a variety of activities including horseback riding, grooming, fishing, and completing art projects. Participants of all ages and abilities learn about horses and horse care through fun team building games and exercises. Each organization has the ability to customize a program to meet the needs of their participants and their budget. Schools and other organizations are encouraged to contact Equestrian Connection to arrange for a field trip for your students/participants to meet our horses. 

For more information, give us a call! (847) 615 8696