Exceptional Equestrians Programs & Services


Because of hippotherapy, we were able to take a family vacation. Before coming to Exceptional Equestrians, we never would have had been able to try a trip on an airplane. Because of improvements Arthur has made in his strength and posture, we were confident he could make the trip. It was a great success. We flew to Nevada, and Arthur got to see the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam.

Brad, the father of charming 11-year-old Arthur
Riding High!

Coming to Exceptional Equestrians and being able to ride has expanded my students' worlds.

Kare Goodness, Pulaski Schools adaptive physical education teacher
Reaching High! Resident Cat!

Riding Programs

We are all individuals, and at Exceptional Equestrians we embrace that fact. We offer an array of progressive equine assisted therapies, which allows us to accommodate riders of varying abilities, geared to meet the specific needs of each client.

New clients will receive an individualized assessment to assist in determining the most appropriate program based on his or her unique characteristics and goals.

Our riding programs include:

Getting Started

Click here to download our riding program registration forms.

Notice of Privacy Practices


Available for ages 2 and up, hippotherapy is an individualized treatment by a licensed and registered clinician with expert knowledge in the use of the horse’s movement to facilitate a pre-determined outcome. At Exceptional Equestrians, hippotherapy is provided by our licensed occupational and physical therapists. Exceptional Equestrians has one of the few hippotherapy clinical specialists in the state of Wisconsin.

During a hippotherapy session, the therapist and equine will challenge the rider’s motor and sensory systems. The therapist will use speed, direction change, positioning, and equipment to elicit the desired response. The three-dimensional movement of the horse stimulates a multi-system response in the body of the rider. The hippotherapy clinician may add additional activities to stimulate other systems such as vision, auditory, respiratory, speech, or cognition to achieve functional outcomes.

Hippotherapy strengthens the muscles needed for head and trunk control, facilitates motor learning and coordination, and has a significant impact on speech and respiration. It also optimizes the rider’s arousal level, leading to improved attention and interaction with the environment.

The unique physical and emotional bond between rider and horse inspires our riders to work on skills and achieve goals, often without realizing how hard they are actually working. Riders with physical impairments gain mobility, strength, and endurance, leading to new or improved motor skills. Riders with sensory impairments gain organization as well as the ability to focus their attention and engage with others.

Lisa Kafka, OTR, HPCS, is the director of our hippotherapy program. Lisa is a licensed occupational therapist and a certified hippotherapy clinical specialist through the American Hippotherapy Association. She is also a certified Neuro-Developmental Treatment therapist and registered riding instructor through PATH International.

Contact us at lkpediatrics@aol.com about our hippotherapy program.

Click here to download riding program registration forms.

Therapeutic Riding

For ages 4 and up, therapeutic riding is offered in a group format and is supervised by a PATH-certified therapeutic riding instructor. Each rider has horse and equipment chosen specifically to accommodate their needs. Riders are stimulated and challenged by the sensory motor input from the horse while working on tasks that align with their ability, goals, and interests.

With progressive levels, our therapeutic riding program is designed to help each individual achieve their personal goals, and riders are grouped accordingly. In addition to the gross and fine motor benefits, therapeutic riding offers an opportunity for growth in other developmental areas including cognition, speech, and socialization. Therapeutic riding is designed to promote peer interaction, problem solving, and learning, all while receiving the sensory-motor input provided by the horse.

Group tasks focus on sequencing, motor learning, communication, and cooperative play. Riders get an introduction into basic horse care and riding skills. Those who seek to progress towards independent riding can focus on horsemanship and equestrian skills.

Eligibility requirements for participation in therapeutic riding include the following:

  • Independent sitting
  • Head control
  • No orthopedic contraindications or mobility restrictions requiring direct therapist intervention
  • Physiologically stable

Schedules and registration information

Therapeutic riding is offered in adaptive and recreational formats. Our program staff will determine appropriate placement for new and returning participants.

Taking the Lead Equine-Assisted Learning

Corporate groups, teams, and individuals utilize equine-assisted learning programs to improve individual and group communication skills, team building, and problem solving. Creative activities use interaction with horses to address identified goals, producing key experiences and life-changing results.

This experience is effective for leadership and team building, growing social skills and self esteem for pre– and early adolescents, and improving family relationships. Exceptional Equestrians' equine-assisted learning program Taking the Lead includes the Girls Rule! and Maverick programs. Click here to learn more.

Gait & Posture Analysis Lab

Because of a generous donation by the Cloud Family Foundation, Exceptional Equestrians is able to offer gait and posture analysis pre- and post-hippotherapy and clinic-based treatment. Our gait mat and inclinometer tools allow our clinicians to collect objective data on the impact of hippotherapy on head and trunk control, balance and gait. Not only does this information assist us in measuring progress but helps our clinicians to make decisions regarding the treatment plan and establish appropriate functional goals.

Equipment Lending Program

Exceptional Equestrians' lending program allows families to borrow equipment to address short-term needs or to try out a piece of equipment prior to making a similar purchase. Exceptional Equestrians accepts equipment donations for its lending program.

Medical Diagnoses that we see at Exceptional Equestrians

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Apraxia
  • Arthrogryposis
  • Ataxia
  • Autism
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Brain injury
  • Canavan disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Choreoathetosis
  • Cri du chat syndrome
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Developmental delay
  • Down’s syndrome
  • Dyslexia
  • Dystonia
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Encephalopathy
  • Epilepsy
  • Failure to thrive
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome
  • Mitochondrial disorder
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta
  • Prematurity
  • Seizure disorder
  • Sensory integration disorder
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Spina bifida
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment
  • Von Willebrand disease

Exceptional Equestrians is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides equine-assisted therapies to individuals with special needs.

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Frequently Asked Questions