Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding: STAR

Every Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse world. Today, we recognize Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding (STAR).

Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding (STAR) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, founded in 1987. STAR’s mission is to foster personal achievement by providing therapeutic experiences using horse related activities for persons with disabilities or other special challenges.

Photos courtesy of Shangri-La Therapuetic Academy of Riding

STAR is the oldest therapeutic riding program in Tennessee and the first to achieve premier accreditation from the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.). We serve individuals from eleven counties in East Tennessee averaging over 160 participants per week ages 4 to 60+. We have 14 PATH Intl. certified instructors – 3 who hold Advanced certification and 3 who are certified Equine Specialists in Mental Health and Learning. The rest of the team is comprised of over 500 volunteers and 35 horses/ponies.

STAR conducts the following programs out of two facilities – 63 acres in Loudon County and 47 acres in Knox County

STAR conducts the following programs:

Therapeutic Riding links individuals that have physical, cognitive or neurological disabilities with horses as a means of gaining therapeutic benefits through learned riding skills and equine interaction. The first half of each lesson focuses on grooming & tacking while the second half is riding. The individuals we serve through Therapeutic Riding have a variety of disabilities which include, but are not limited to; Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, developmental delays, head trauma/brain injury, hearing impairments, learning disabilities, cognitive disorders, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, orthopedic conditions, paralysis, speech impairments, Spina Bifida, stroke, and visual impairments.

Changing STRIDES teaches life skills to at-risk youth, women in crisis, and those in rehabilitation by developing partnerships with horses. This program provides the tools to better manage their lives and foster positive relationships while teaching problem solving, appropriate communication, anger management and personal fortitude. The participants in Changing STRIDES come from the juvenile courts, drug & alcohol rehabilitation centers, and mental health facilities.

Minis in Motion partners miniature horses and donkeys with people to ignite a spark for learning and personal development. Because of their size, our minis are perfect partners in Equine Assisted Learning activities that promote personal development and emotional well-being. They predominately go into Alzheimer’s/memory care units of local assisted living facilities but are equally comfortable with school groups, camps, and parades.

Heroes & Horses is an equine assisted activity for veterans with physical disabilities and/or PTSD. They work both on the ground and in the saddle. Helping the participants are fellow veterans who understand the military mindset thus providing fellowship and support. Lessons for these veterans are underwritten 100%.

For more information or to support the mission of STAR:

If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *