Queen of Hearts Therapeutic Riding Center began formally providing therapeutic riding lessons to children and adults in the Inland Empire in 2000 and obtained its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in 2001 as a public charity. The therapy program was moved from the City of Riverside to Mira Loma (now known as Jurupa Valley) in 2005 and became a full-time equestrian center for people with disabilities in 2008.
Therapeutic horseback riding has been proven to improve self-confidence, physical fitness, cognitive thinking, balance, and self esteem. As the walking gait of the horse duplicates the three-dimensional movement of the human gait at the walk, riders who have difficulty walking or who are unable to walk without assistance, are gently moved as if they are walking. Sitting astride a walking horse for 30 – 45 minutes can improve balance, and the effort taken to stabilize on a mobile platform improves core and trunk strength, which also improves balance. Those with brain injuries may work on controlling impulsive behaviors, or remembering sequential activities by participating in a simple reining pattern or obstacle course.
In 2009, Queen of Hearts proudly announced its Equine Services for Heroes program - which is specifically designed to work with the needs of our wounded veterans. The veterans that we offer services to come to us with a variety of issues that can be addressed with equine activities so many of our sessions may include riding lessons combined with horsemanship skills that emphasizes using those skills to address behavioral or physical disabilities. We understand the importance of having volunteers with military or law enforcement background so our clients are surrounded by people that have a better understanding of the vet’s experiences and feelings regarding his/her challenges.
In 2011, Queen of Hearts expanded to include unmounted equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning by partnering with mental health professionals and equine specialists certified in the EAGALA method of therapy. The accepting nature and biddable personality of the therapy horse encourages participants to test the limits of their abilities and learn to make good choices under the guidance of qualified therapy instructors. Licensed counselors guide families as they learn how to connect or reconnect through metaphorical activities with horses. Corporations and organizations grow as they progress through team building and leadership activities.
Queen of Hearts volunteer program enables adult volunteers to work directly with the youth in the community by introducing them to a whole new world of horses. We provide a safe and structured work environment and set high expectations in accordance with the youth's age, skill level and developmental maturity. We provide training and support for them to successfully complete their tasks. We provide a variety of learning opportunities for skill development such as equine management, office skills, and how to work and deal with the public and those with disabilities. The youth that comes to Queen of Hearts are often those who need community service hours for high school or college, some are referred through at-risk programs, and some youths are referred by Riverside County Work Force Development Centers.
Imagine being an adult and only 4'2" tall, your likely height if you are in a wheelchair; now imagine being 8' tall, looking down on your friends and seeing the world from the back of a gentle horse. Imagine being a child who is pushed along in a wheelchair or propels herself; and then suddenly you gain the freedom to walk, trot or canter in any direction you wish with an obedient horse functioning as your legs and strength. These feelings are unimaginable to able-bodied persons, but for us at Queen of Hearts Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc. they are everyday miracles.