SpiritHorse International Equine Assisted Therapy Nurtures Lives Through the Healing Power of Horses
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SpiritHorse International Equine Assisted Therapy Nurtures Lives Through the Healing Power of Horses

"When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk.  He trots the air, the earth sings when he touches it."

– William Shakespeare

As Shakespeare so eloquently penned, the magical powers of horses nurture our lives - spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

In this blog we’d like to introduce you to SpritHorse International®, a therapeutic riding organization that certifies equine-assisted therapy facilities and instructors world-wide in nurturing and transforming its participants’ lives.

Manna Pro, in keeping with its mission in nurturing life, is honored to sponsor SpiritHorse International and support its global mission.We support those who give back to their communities and are even more excited to do so when this is accomplished with partnerships and relationship building through horses.  Whether it is riding or simply communicating with a horse by touch, we value how horses can enrich our lives.  SpiritHorse International makes this connection possible throughout the United States.  To those who share passion for nurturing their horses, no matter what role they play, we’re here to make their lives the best they can be.

SpiritHorse International history

After a 5 year stint volunteering at Dallas-based equine therapy center, Charles Fletcher uncovered a need for enhanced equine-assisted therapy options to address a wider range of diagnoses. As a result, he founded the SpiritHorse Therapeutic Riding Center in Corinth, Texas, in 2002 to provide free one-on-one personalized therapeutic riding sessions for adults and children with disabilities.

His ultimate goal was to create a healthcare program “to assist individuals with special needs in reaching their full potential through interaction with horses.”  

The SpiritHorse Corinth location, conveniently located in the DFW metroplex, currently serves 10 local counties. The Corinth Center tallied approximately 88,600 lessons from 2002 to 2008, all the while evaluating and refining the program’s methodology. 

SpiritHorse research studies show therapeutic riding positively affects autistic individuals

Two research studies, designed to evaluate the effects of therapeutic riding on autistic individuals,  were completed at the SpiritHorse Center between 2009 and 2011. One study was conducted by the UT Southwestern Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, the Autism Treatment Center of Dallas & others and the other by Virje Universitiet, Amsterdam. 

Study findings:

  • Autism rating of all participants was positively affected
  • 9 children were rated non-autistic after 10 weeks of intervention
  • Results were measure as “significant”, the “gold standard” in statistical analysis

The studies, published in peer reviewed journals, gave scientific credence to support and confirm what participants’ families and SpiritHorse Center staff were already observing - that equine assisted therapy improved austic individuals’ quality of life.  

Based on the Texas Center’s tremendous success and global demand, in 2010 the organization expanded internationally. To date there are 600 SpiritHorse-certified instructors and over 100 SpiritHorse-certified Centers located in the United States,  Europe, Central America, South America, and South Africa. 

In addition to autism, the SpritHorse International equine-assisted therapy program provides services for those with Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Pitt Hopkins syndrome, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, post traumatic stress disorder, learning disabilities, speech impediments, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and more. Treatment protocols are specifically tailored for each individual’s diagnosis and goals.

SpiritHorse Riders’ Success Stories


The love of a horse, determination, and SpritHorse International therapeutic riding techniques enhanced John’s future after suffering a stroke at age 35. John’s story begins with not being able to speak and only having partial mobility to being able to walk, talk, and drive again!




Mallory, diagnosed with Down syndrome, began her SpritHorse journey as a physically weak and shy little girl. Thanks to her time spent at the Equine Assisted Therapy Inc. SpritHorse Center in Wildwood, Missouri, she has gained much muscle strength and is now a bubbly social young lady.



SpiritHorse International ~ Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find a SpiritHorse International Center in my area?

Call or email Ric Lehman, SpiritHorse International Executive Director at 904-814-3803 or ric1@brighthouse.com.

What are the age limits on how young or old one can be to participate in the lessons?

Age limits are 2 to 92 and must include a primary doctor’s authorization.

How do I become a certified instructor?  What are the specifics as to how long it takes and what the certification involves, etc.? Costs to get certified? 

Instructor certification includes attending 3 to 4 days of classes, conducting lesson exercises under supervision, and passing a written exam.  Cost is $1090 for Senior Instructor Certification.

How do I certify my facility under SpiritHorse International?  What’s the procedure and cost to do so?

Facility certification requires a site visit by a SpiritHorse International representative. In addition, the center principal must be SpiritHorse Senior Certified Instructor. The cost for the facility licensing agreement is $499.

Do all SpiritHorse International facilities offer the same therapies at each one or is everyone unique in their services depending on the available instructors?

Therapies are developed based on each individual’s specific diagnosis.

Does SpiritHorse International offer free lessons to individuals that otherwise couldn’t afford it?

Yes, most centers offer free lessons.

What would be the average cost of the lessons on a 30 minute or per hour basis?  Are the lessons individual, group, or a mix of both?

Average lesson cost depends on the individual center and their offerings. Most offer individual and group sessions depending on the individual’s needs.

Would the various centers be looking for donations of horses that can be used for the lessons?  If so, what’s the donation process? For example, would the horse first go through an evaluation process to see if it would be suitable for the workload, have the appropriate temperament and training, etc.?

Typically yes. Each horse is evaluated for temperament, physical condition, and usability.

How can I make donations to SpiritHorse International? Are donations tax-deductible?

Call Ric Lehman at 904-814-3803 or email at ric1@brighthouse.com. All donations are fully tax deductible.

How does one get information about volunteering with SpiritHorse International?

Contact your local SpiritHorse center. 

Are there opportunities for community service work days and corporate volunteer experiences at the Corinth, TX, SpiritHorse location?

Absolutely!  Call or email Ric Lehman, SpiritHorse International Executive Director at 904-814-3803 or ric1@brighthouse.com.

Where can I find SpiritHorse International on social media?

Follow us on our Facebook page.


Manna Pro is honored to partner with SpiritHorse International in its mission of enhancing and transforming the lives of special needs individuals by interacting with horses. 

We invite you to join us in supporting SpiritHorse International by following their Facebook page, volunteering at a SpiritHorse Center, making a tax-deductible donation, and/or sharing this blog post.  


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