Partners for Progress – Equine Therapy for People with Disabilities

Partners for Progress is a nonprofit organization that provides unique equine therapy-based programs for individuals with disabilities.  They utilize trained volunteers, quality certified and/or licensed staff and equine superstars to assist in the physical, mental, emotional and social development of their clients, making their organization a premier, goal oriented, equine therapy facility. For more information visit their website – To listen to our conversation on Making a Difference radio program, click here. To make a tax-deductible contribution, click here.

BET:    Why is equine therapy important to people with disabilities? What are the benefits?

PFP: There are so many benefits. For starters, the movement of the horse stimulates the muscle and joint groups in the human body that are used for walking. For people that are not walking, this therapy can begin to strengthen and develop those muscle groups. Working with horses improves areas of focus, problem solving, speech and memory. Autistic individuals young and old benefit from these areas of growth and development with the horses. Riding helps coordination balance and improves muscle in tone in low tone individuals. For people with sensory issues, the horses offers challenges of sight, smell, touch and sound.

BET:     How did Partners for Progress start and what made you think to work with horses and people with disabilities?

PFP: Horses and the disabled have been around for hundreds of years. Our program started by a woman who had a brother with Down Syndrome. She was raised on a farm and worked in special education. It was her vision to start this program. It began in the backyard of her farm and has now grown to servicing 170 clients a week at our location in Lake County, Illinois

BET:    Share with us the biggest success you have experienced with the program.

PFP: We have had so many brilliant success stories. Some in the physically disabled world, some in the mental health world. In one situation, we had a child 18 months old that was born missing the connector between the right and left side of the brain. He has ability to move his legs and very little ability to move his arms. He has no had eye coordination. After a year of riding with us, this child starting taking steps with a walker and was able to move food from the table to his mouth by himself. With continued therapy, he will word towards a more independent future.

BET:    What do you see for the future of Partners for Progress?

PFP: We continually work to perfect the programs we have developed so far. This includes our Power Hour program, our Sports Riding Program that allows clients to horse show competitively at Special Olympics and the National Snaffle Bit Association. Our direct treatment program, Hippotherapy, which uses a physical, occupational or speech therapist directly with each client during their ride. In addition, our Mental Health program and Hero’s On Horses program that offers programs to the men and women in our military. We are currently working on identifying a site in Lake County Illinois to purchase as our permanent home. Fundraising is the core of what keeps our program alive. We work aggressively and tirelessly to fundraise year round. Our biggest fundraiser is our Annual Hoe Down Dance and Auction. This year being held October 16th at the new Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake. It is a fun, family friendly event that incorporates, dinner, silent and live auction, raffle baskets, country and western music, square dancing and plenty of top notch hoe down food. For more information, to volunteer or attend, click here.

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