Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding Center is a nonprofit organization in Zionsville that provides equine-assisted activities and therapy to individuals with physical, cognitive, behavioral and/or emotional disabilities in the greater Indianapolis area. Enjoy our interview with them below.

Tell us about Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding Center.

“Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding Center enriches the lives of individuals in Central Indiana with physical, cognitive, and/or emotional challenges through equine-assisted therapies and activities. Morning Dove was started in 1999 and has grown tremendously over 20 years. We serve over 100 individuals weekly and depend on over 100 volunteers to help run our programs. Morning Dove has 3 full-time employees and 5 part-time instructors.”

How have you seen people’s lives transformed from therapeutic riding?

“There are many individuals that have been riding and/or participating in Morning Dove’s programs for years. These individuals find it calming and soothing to continue horse therapy as this might be their only outlet. Some individuals are working towards actual horsemanship skills, while others are sitting on the horse because it feels therapeutic.”

Run me through a therapeutic riding session.

“Each therapeutic riding lesson has 3 individuals, up to 9 volunteers, and 1 instructor. Each rider has a horse, horse leader, and 1 or 2 side walkers (depending on their ability). Each rider gets his/her helmet and enters the arena to wait turns mounting on to their horse. Once mounted, the lesson begins with some type of stretching warm up for the riders and the horses. There is a game and/or riding pattern that is worked on throughout the lesson. The end of the lesson involves some type of cool down stretch as well. Once each rider is dismounted, they wait with their side walker at the side of the arena for the horses to leave and then they can go back to their parents or guardian.”

Who can benefit from your programs and the therapeutic riding that you offer?

“Anyone with physical, cognitive, and/or emotional challenges can benefit from programs/services offered at Morning Dove.”

What is the best lesson that you have learned from working with people with disabilities?

“This question would be answered differently by each person working in our programs. For most of us, we believe patience and understanding for both the individuals and the horses are the best lessons learned.”

What is something that your center does that is unique from other therapeutic riding programs?

“We have a veteran’s program that runs for 2 hours, once per week. We have partnered with the Vet Center of Indianapolis and the Rehabilitation Hospitals of Indiana to provide the veterans for the program we offer.”

What is a fun/heartwarming story of working with someone through therapeutic riding?

“There are many stories that come from time at Morning Dove. Each employee and volunteer has their own favorite story that will be remembered forever. This is why it is fulfilling working here, because you will hear a new heartwarming story each week!”

How did you have to transition this year with everything being shut down?

“We were completely shut down to programming for 3 months during 2020. We were able to reboot the first of June with many new policies and procedures in place to keep everyone as safe as possible. Because of our efforts, we have been able to stay open throughout the rest of 2020 and into early 2021.”

Anything else that you would like to share?

“We hope to continue to grow in the coming years. We are happy to be able to provide more information to families in the area!”

You can find out more about Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding Center at their website or by following them on their Facebook page.