Moving As One

Our equine center provides both therapeutic and recreation-focused programs that impact a rider’s emotional, cognitive, physical, and mental health.  Individual and group equine programs are available to those of all ages and abilities, including elders, toddlers, veterans, and those experiencing physical or mental challenges.

Whether you are an experienced rider, have always wanted to take lessons, or simply need extra support to ride, our staff will develop a customized program to fit your riding skill level.

Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapy

Research shows that the walking pattern of a horse is similar to that of a human in motion.  When a rider sits astride a walking horse, the movement transferred from the horse to the rider can assist in developing improved pelvic mobility, postural control, weight shift, timing/fluidity needed for coordination, rhythm/sensory regulation, and much more.  Equine movement is especially effective in that, the total number of imposed challenges to the rider’s pelvis and spine can be more effective than traditional clinical tools, such as a physioball, balance board, an exercise program, etc.

Our riders have had a variety of conditions including:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder
  • Developmental Delay
  • Genetic Disorders
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Sensory Integration Disorders
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Down syndrome
These conditions are characterized by one or more of the following:

  • Impaired balance
  • Impaired coordination (rhythm, timing)
  • Impaired motor planning
  • Impaired postural control and movement patterns
  • Impaired sensorimotor function
  • Impaired mobility/gait
  • Muscle tightness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired regulation of arousal and attention

Our Equine Programs and Services

Adaptive Riding

Our adaptive riding lessons are designed to teach the fundamentals of horseback riding, including different gaits and how to use the reins, as well as horsemanship skills including grooming, tacking, lead walking and caring for a horse. Vaulting techniques are often utilized in lessons to facilitate balance, coordination, core strength and working in partnership with the horse.

Our certified instructors work on goals that teach skills needed for successful participation in school, at home, and in the community.


Hippotherapy is a treatment tool that physical, occupational and speech therapists incorporate into their treatment sessions at The Root Farm. Our therapists do not teach patients horsemanship, or how to ride a horse. The therapists use clinical reasoning and evidence-based practice in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement to improve core strength, balance, muscle tone, timing/coordination and sensorimotor systems, etc. Although hippotherapy is a focus of each therapy session, they use typical tools of their trade as well to address patients’ functional goals. The therapist relies heavily on the well-trained horses and our amazing equine professionals to provide the highest quality therapy possible.

Ready to Get Riding?

Recreational Riding

Whether you have always wanted to learn to ride or want to improve your skills, we will work with you to build a customized equine experience.  Our equine programs are open to anyone interested in riding.  We offer private and group riding sessions, and have day and evening slots available year-round.  Please fill out the form below to learn more and a member of our team will be in touch.

Meet Our Equine Staff

Mary Ellen Terpstra

With over 30 years spent as a practicing physical therapist, Mary Ellen is one of less than 200 therapists in the country that is a certified Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist.  Prior to working at The Root Farm, Mary Ellen didn’t have experience working with horses.  Having been introduced to Hippotherapy, she was immediately intrigued and surprised by the way in which horses transferred sensory motor input to riders.

Alexis Lalor, CTRS

Alexis was first introduced to therapeutic horseback riding while volunteering for Upstate Cerebral Palsy’s riding program almost a decade ago.  At the time, she was working in another area of the agency, and after witnessing many moments at the barn that were transformative, she began to reanalyze the kind of work she was meant to do.  Inspired by the program and participants, she began riding again herself, an activity she enjoyed in her early childhood years.  In an effort to learn more and give back to the program that had such a significant impact on her life, she began working as a volunteer coordinator.  She has recruited numerous volunteers for our equine program, many of whom are still involved with the farm today.

Rodger Pape, CTRS

An avid outdoorsman, Rodger has long been a believer in the therapeutic benefits of the outdoors and horses and was inspired as a teen to find a way to share the depth and importance of these values with others.  Moved by the strong emotional connection people form with horses, he first became involved in therapeutic riding programs as a volunteer; years later coordinating the program itself along with other recreation programming options for people of all abilities, initially at Upstate Cerebral Palsy and now The Root Farm.

Focus on Your Capabilities and Expand Your Possibilities

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The Root Farm

2860 King Road 
Sauquoit, NY 13456

315.520.7046 • info@rootfarm.org


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