What We Do
Therapeutic Horseback Riding
Since 1992, we have been helping children and adults with disabilities experience the magic of horseback riding - and the phenomenal benefits that come from being with horses. Located in Santa Fe, the CNM Ranch is the perfect setting to relax, grow, and have fun in the midst of beautiful 360 degree views of the mountain ranges of northern New Mexico.
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. We desire our riders to experience all the physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of horseback riding in a safe, relaxing, enjoyable environment. The best aspect of our horseback riding program is that stretching, strengthening, balance work, and social skill development happen 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 the benefits are hard to miss! We function on the principle that our client’s experience with the horse is the cornerstone of therapeutic horseback riding.
We offer riders as much freedom on the horse as possible while ensuring that riders are as safe as possible. In order to best serve each rider, we offer several levels of riding that we can adjust to fit each rider and his or her ability.
Assisted Bareback Riding
We offer assisted bareback rides to riders that are not ready to ride the horse independently. The rider and a CNM staff person ride the horse together to help ensure proper body placement and posture. Volunteers walk on each side of the horse to offer support if needed. This type of riding is particularly helpful for clients that use wheelchairs, cannot sit unassisted, or are too young to ride unassisted. It allows each rider to enjoy the freedom of movement that only exists on a horse. While we hope that riders are able to progress to independent riding, we continue to work at this level for as long as necessary. The emotional and physical benefits of assisted bareback riding include stretching and relaxation of legs and hips, development of the walking reflex, strengthening of core and neck muscles, increased self-esteem, and of course, happiness!
Riders who are ready to sit independently in the saddle enjoy riding the horse while a CNM volunteer or staff person leads the horse while others help by walking on each side of 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. We can easily tailor sessions to help riders continue building strength, coordination, flexibility, and social skills.
For 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. We believe that ANY amount of time spent with horses has a benefit for the rider (or the watcher if a student is not ready to climb into the saddle). Please call or email to inquire more about how we work with larger groups.
Ride With Us!
***We will be closed from November 2019 to Spring 2020. Please fill out a "Request to Ride with CNM" form if you are interested in joining our program. We look forward to meeting new riders in the spring.***
At 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.
We would love to have you or your family member participate in our program! Please complete the appropriate application below to ride with us. All riders should bring a completed Insurance Waiver and Release of Liability Form to their first riding session each season.
Online Applications are mobile friendly!