Therapeutic Riding

We will be closed for the winter starting October 30th, 2017. Please email with any questions about riding with Challenge New Mexico.

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Please email with any inquiries about becoming a client:


groupIn July 1992, we began our exciting therapeutic horseback riding program. Challenge New Mexico Therapeutic Horseback Riding conducts sessions through most of the year in our outdoor and indoor arenas. Horseback riding has extraordinary physical and psychological benefits and is recognized as one of the most therapeutic forms of recreation for a person with a disability. The movement pattern of the horse causes the brain to send relaxation messages to the muscles. Back and leg muscles strengthen. Eye-hand coordination and posture improves. Students also participate in a fun learning curriculum which covers information about horses and their care. Grooming and feeding provide opportunities for the participant to get to know their horse and provides ‘hands-on’ experience.

Iphone 92015 175We desire our riders to experience all the physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of horseback riding in a safe, relaxing, enjoyable environment. Each rider is evaluated and progresses at his or her own pace. A basic team of CNM staff and volunteers exists that assists each rider according to their needs. All lessons are based in therapy and include stretching, balancing, and strengthening exercises, eye-hand coordination, listening skills, following direction, arena work and trail rides. The best aspect of our horseback riding program is that all of this happens within the context of working with the horse. Often, the rider does not realize all the therapy work they are doing while they ride, but our riders and their family members certainly notice all of the benefits! We function on the principle that our client’s experience with the horse is the cornerstone of therapeutic horseback riding. The program is located at our Ranch in Santa Fe which features 360 degree views of the mountain ranges of northern New Mexico.

We offer riders as much freedom on the horse as safety will allow. Riders who work with our program come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities. In order to best serve each rider, we offer several levels of riding that we can adjust to fit each rider and ability.

Assisted Bareback Rides

CNM4We offer assisted bareback rides to riders that have difficulty staying on the horse independently. The rider and a CNM staff person ride the horse together to help ensure proper body placement and posture. This type of riding is particularly helpful for clients that are wheelchair bound but still enjoy the freedom of movement that only exists on a horse.

Haltered Rides

Zach and SiscoRiders who are ready to sit independently in the saddle enjoy riding the horse while a CNM volunteer or staff person leads the horse. This allows for a great amount of safety for riders while providing many options to help riders enjoy independence with the horse and learn at their own pace. Some riders may use a hard-backed saddle to help them ride independently. Others may be developing the strength, coordination, or balance needed to ride in complete control of the horse. Some may learn to use reigns while enjoying the added safety of riding with an attached lead rope. This type of ride is often the most effective way for us to encourage safety, enjoyment, and freedom with the horse no matter the skill level of the rider.

Independent Riding

RobertFor riders who are ready to advance beyond haltered rides, we encourage “unclipped” riding – the rider has control of the horse with a full bridle, bit, and reigns. While we desire all of our riders to experience the freedom that horseback riding allows, we also aim to help each rider progress to independent riding at his or her own pace. When riders are ready to independently control the horse, we work with them on more advanced horsemanship ideas to help them understand the responsibility associated with independent riding.

Group Rides and Field Trips

We enjoy hosting field trips for Life Skills classes and working with school groups. Please call to inquire more about how we work with larger groups.

No matter a rider’s needs, CNM staff and volunteers strive to engage with each rider to help provide an enjoyable riding session. We often venture out of the arena to enjoy the wildlife around the ranch, and we enjoy level-appropriate trail rides as the rider is ready for a change of pace.

NesariaAt Challenge New Mexico, we strive to offer everyone an opportunity to interact with horses no matter what their ability level is. We believe that horses are unique animals that offer riders a level of therapy that is unique yet applicable to everyday life.

If you have any questions about our program or how to become a client, please contact:

Elissa Ulibarri