Refuge Services home Refuge Services - Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, Hippotherapy, Therapeutic Riding
Transforming Lives
Meet The Horses

Sponsor a Horse - To keep MTR's program affordable and accessible, riders only pay a nominal fee. One-third of MTR's budget is generated from rider revenue with the balance of funding coming from private donations. Would you please help MTR's riders continue to benefit from horses like these special therapists? Thank you for your consideration.


Andy, a 17 year old Quarter Horse, was acquired by MTR in 2002. Before joining MTR's program, Andy was owned by a teenager who successfully rode him in western-style competitions. Andy wins the hearts of everyone who works with him and he helps countless MTR riders improve their coordination, muscle tone, and self-image. Andy is not only muscular and sturdy with slow and smooth gaits, but he is also truly unflappable. Nothing scares Andy, not even a game of ball on horseback or a rider who can't sit quietly in the saddle. Because of Andy's temperament, he is the perfect mount for children or adults with ADHD and autism. With his western-style training Andy is very easy to steer, which makes him the perfect therapist for one young rider who has the use of only one hand.
Claire, a 15 year old Belgian Draft/Quarter Horse cross, was acquired by MTR in 2003. MTR's veterinarian helped us find Claire when her owner was buying a new horse and could no longer keep her. Claire is a true gentle giant who helps countless MTR riders improve their coordination, muscle tone, and self-image. Because Claire is sturdy and strong with a wide base of support, she often helps heavier riders with balance problems whether it's a child with autism who is extremely vocal or an adult who has lost the full use of his legs due to multiple sclerosis. Claire is quiet and patient and can be trusted in any situation. MTR staff and volunteers who work with Claire know how she loves to sleep and she's gentle enough to rest her head on your lap when she lying down in her stall.
Dakota, a 15 year old Belgian Draft/Quarter Horse cross, was acquired by MTR in 2001. Prior to coming to MTR, Dakota enjoyed galloping through the hillsides in the beautiful hunt country of Middleburg, Virginia. When his owner passed away, the family wanted Dakota to have a wonderful home and was proud to have him help MTR’s special riders. Dakota is a true gentle giant who helps countless MTR riders improve their coordination, muscle tone, and self-image. Dakota is sturdy and strong with a wide base of support, and he easily helps heavier riders with balance problems. Dakota has become a friend to one adult rider in particular, who leaves his wheelchair and disabilities behind when riding. He is also used in therapy sessions with small children who might need a therapist to sit behind them when mounted on the horse to help them stay balanced. With his sweet temperament, charm and good looks, Dakota is truly the favorite horse of MTR’s riders of all ages and disabilities.
Gresca is a 15 year old Andalusian mare, a Spanish-bred horse. Gresca has been a part of MTR’s program since 1999. Gresca is known as the princess of all the horses at MTR with her flowing mane and tail and her sweet nature. She is highly trained and has very fluid movements. She is an excellent mount for riders with high tone, as the gentle motion of her gaits promotes the relaxation of spastic muscles. Gresca is sensitive and nurturing with almost maternal instincts and she quickly picks up on the emotions of her riders. While she helps countless riders, she has truly bonded with an adult who has multiple sclerosis, and once aboard Gresca can leave her wheelchair behind.
Harpo is a 17 year old large pony who was donated to MTR in 2002. Because of his unique markings and the white spots on his belly and neck, Harpo is known as a paint pony. With his small stature, white face and his cute personality, Harpo calms the nerves of any new rider. He is a loving and patient pony who is reliable in any situation. Harpo’s narrow shoulders and slow, steady gaits make him the ideal partner for riders with low muscle tone. His quiet nature helped one young adult rider in particular, who had a debilitating bone and joint disease and was unable to grip with her hands. She designed special gloves that could Velcro to Harpo’s reins so she could safely experience riding without the assistance of a leader or side walker. Harpo is a wonderful pony for MTR’s smaller riders.

Holiday, a 27 year old large Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse cross, was donated to MTR in 2001 when his owners went off to college. He had been well-loved by two teenage girls who rode him in many horseshows and three-day events and taught him lots of tricks. His former owners still come to visit their beloved Holiday. Although Holiday is the oldest horse at MTR, you would never know it because of his beautiful coat and near-perfect confirmation. Holiday is wise in his years and sets the standard for hard work, dependability, and confidence. He works with riders of all disabilities; his slow walk benefits riders with rigid muscles and high tone in their legs but his spring-like trot helps strengthen the muscles of riders with low tone. He is also the perfect partner for riders with milder disabilities that can learn to ride without a leader or side walker to help them.
May is an 12 year old Andalusian/ Morgan Horse cross. The Andalusian is a Spanish-bred horse with a flowing mane and smooth gaits and the Morgan Horse is a sturdy breed that was traditionally a work horse. May exemplifies the best traits of both of these breeds. May was donated to MTR in 2005 by a well known classical dressage trainer based in North Carolina. May is quiet and sturdy and very emotionally concerned about her riders. She is always aware of a rider’s balance and she makes adjustments in her motions to accommodate and support them. She is suitable for either high tone or low tone riders because her leader can easily adjust the pace and rhythm of her walk. In the short time since she’s been at MTR, May has helped countless riders – she is helping one small boy, who rides her while participating in speech therapy, learn how to communicate. May is also the perfect partner for one young girl with learning disabilities who is just beginning to ride independently.

Peaches is a 13 year old Shetland pony who was acquired by MTR in 2001. She had been trained by a well-known pony trainer in Virginia. Peaches small size makes her the perfect mount for some of MTR’s littlest riders. She is sweet, loving and playful and makes every MTR rider smile. She helps so many riders at MTR – from a blind woman who rolls her wheelchair alongside Peaches and takes a walk through the countryside, to a small child with cerebral palsy who Peaches motivates to stand without the use of canes. Her outgoing personality brings even the most timid child out of their shell and her quick pony stride helps stimulate the muscles of low tone riders. Peaches is a wonderful asset to all of MTR’s riders!

Pete was a show jumper in need of a new home after an injury ended his jumping career.  MTR welcomed 16 year-old Pete into the program in 2006 and he has made quite an impression already.

A shy, quiet, and somewhat fearful young adult is immediately drawn to Pete because of his friendly and inquisitive nature.  Pete welcomes his visitor with a gentle nuzzle and a soft nicker.

In the arena, Pete's narrow but sturdy build and his long stride gently stretch a little girl's tight leg muscles and move her hips and pelvis in such a way that she can experience what walking should really be like.  On another day, his patience and tolerance allow the same little girl to strengthen her body as she rides backwards, sideways, and even on her stomach.

During the summer Pete's soft, white fur provides the perfect empty canvas for visually impaired campers eagerly waiting in line to leave painted handprints on his coat.

Click Here to Sponsor Pete

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