What we do

SIRE serves adults and children with a wide variety of disabilities including, but not limited to cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, developmental delay, attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.

Current programs

THERAPEUTIC HORSEBACK RIDING takes advantage of the movement of the horse while teaching clients traditional horsemanship skills. Instructors certified to teach riding to people with disabilities or other special needs tailor sessions and semesters to the needs and goals of each SIRE rider. Riders’ goals may be developmental, social, physical or intellectual or a mixture of all these.For example, a client may want to improve her balance and walking speed, to work on issues of empathy or self-control, or to work on improving memory.

At the end of each semester, instructors summarize progress made toward each riders’ goals. In addition, SIRE instructors not only customize riding sessions to meet therapeutic-style goals, they also help riders meet personal sport-related goals up to and including competing at the Houston Rodeo and Special Olympics.

In therapeutic horseback riding, the rider learns to influence the movement of the horse. Other Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies benefit from the movement of therapy horses in very specific ways or for a specific subset of clients.

In SIRE’s Military Program: Horses for Armed Forces, riders can participate in any of SIRE’s offerings noted here, either integrated into our general population, individually, or grouped with other military riders depending upon the preference of the client. SIRE’s Horses for Armed Forces is committed to improving lives by providing services to active, separated, and retired service members and their families.

SIRE’s therapy horses facilitate physical, cognitive, and emotional healing. Our sites are friendly and welcoming, allowing riders and their families to relax, exercise, and connect with horses and others who have served. Tending to and bonding with large, peaceful animals such as our therapy horses can be emotionally satisfying and comforting. Even something as simple as the quiet repetitive motion of grooming can be healing.

For those who want more activity and hubbub, we offer that too. We’ve found, regardless if one prefers sessions to be quiet or to be more intense, mastering new skills increases self-confidence and hopefulness. See our blog post regarding the Wounded Warrior Project for more information on free introductory sessions for certain veterans.

Coming Attractions

HIPPOTHERAPY is a clinical specialty that differs from therapeutic riding. In hippotherapy, the movement of the horse influences the movement of the rider. A specially trained therapist (licensed physical, occupational, speech, or psychotherapist) evaluates the client, develops specific therapy goals, and works one-on-one with the client.

Hippotherapy is, therefore, a specialized form of medical treatment where a trained therapist develops a care plan for their client using the horse as their primary method of treatment. At present, potential SIRE clients who, in their initial evaluation are recommended to have hippotherapy, may either be served through therapeutic riding or placed on a waiting list until 2014. At that time, SIRE plans to begin offering hippotherapy again.

Two other specialized riding skills programs in the planning stages to be offered by SIRE.
  • THERAPEUTIC DRIVING CARRIAGE driving gives participants a riding alternative, opening up the world of horses to those who may be unable to ride due to weight, balance, fatigue, allergies, asthma, fear of heights, the inability to sit astride, or other issues. 

  • VAULTING is comparable to gymnastics on horseback. These riders benefit from improved balance, coordination, greater gravitational security, enhanced ability to locate where they are in space, and improved memory sequencing. The motion of the horse provides sensory motor input to the riders’ nervous system that augments the challenge of the vaulting positions.