Giant steps opened in June of 1998 by the founders Robert Pope and Lee Justice.
Robert and Lee got introduced to therapeutic riding a few years before and did a year long study and visited many therapeutic riding programs around the country.
They originally had a ranch in the bay area then moved to Montana but because the population base in Montana wouldn't support the program that they envisioned, they sold the ranch, moved back to the Bay Area, and founded Giant Steps.
It is the only program in the country that breeds and trains its own horses for therapy.
“ Giant Steps offers life-changing experiences to people of all ages with a wide range of disabilities.”
“ The programs offer the participants the opportunity to focus not on their limitations, but on what they can do, and the results are extraordinary.” The services are open to any person with a disability who can benefit from this special form of therapy.
The riders range in age from 4 to 94 years old and have a wide range of challenges. They serve riders with over fifty distinct disabilities each year, including:
When riding a horse, the human body moves as if walking. The slow, rhythmic motion of a horse stimulates the body and works the muscles of the rider in a manner similar to the human stride.
The certified therapeutic riding instructors combine riding skills in lesson plans designed to enhance the physical, cognitive and emotional well-being of our riders.
-The benefits of riding include the following:
-Strengthening and toning muscles
-Improving balance and flexibility
-Enhancing head control and eye/hand coordination
-Strengthening communication skills (speaking and listening)
-Improving concentration, patience and self-esteem
Giant Steps is located at the Riverside Equestrian Center in Petaluma.
It is the second largest equestrian facility in California and, in addition to affording an excellent location with easy access from the East Bay, San Francisco, Marin, Napa and Sonoma Counties, offers an ideal environment for our program.
They have a 100 x 200-foot covered arena, a 20 stall barn, 60-foot round pen, cross tie areas with wash racks and began the construction of a sensory integration course.
Equine Assisted Therapy consists of weekly classes during four 10-12 week sessions.
Lessons are individually designed to suit each rider's particular need, ability, stamina, and are consistent with predetermined goals that are established in conjunction with parents, teachers, caregivers, physicians and other therapists.
They “use the horse as a tool to help promote positive self-esteem, communication skills, healthy impulse controls, confidence, a sense of freedom, self-worth, safety and respect for others.” Participants also learn the fundamentals of horsemanship.
-In order to participate in Giant Steps Therapeutic Riding Program, potential riders or family members must complete the application forms, including a physician's release.
-Once all forms have been received you will be contacted for an assessment.
Program Application Forms: Rider Form Check List Welcome Letter & General Information Registration and Release Form Registration, Contact and Tuition Forms Emergency Medical Treatment Form Annual Health History Form Riverside Release Form Rider Goals Scholarship Form Physician's Release Form
Cost Of Services…
Program Tuition Payment Details:
“ The Giant Steps Sessions actual cost per rider is $1200 per session, through fundraising efforts and contribution’s the cost to the riders is a $500 tuition/session.”
There is a Fall, Winter, and Spring Session.
Every Session requires a tuition of $500
All of the instructors have been trained and certified through the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA)
The instructors and volunteers aid physical and emotional wellness in a safe, structured, but fun-filled environment.
Want To Volunteer…??
Volunteers assist riders during their weekly lessons, groom horses, help maintain the facility, assist with administrative tasks, and much, much more.
If you're interested in joining and contributing …here are the requirements:
Attend a volunteer orientation Complete a volunteer application Attend Training Session 1, which includes a facility tour and discussions of safety procedures (on Volunteer Calendar--dates indicated in olive on designated Saturdays) Make a weekly commitment for a minimum of one session.