Something extraordinary happens when horses touch the lives of children with special needs. A relationship is formed—a partnership to inspire the discovery of trust, freedom, strength and hope.

The Bridges Program is a partnership between High Desert ESD and the Bend La Pine School District to serve elementary children who are on the far end of the autism spectrum—many are non-verbal, using devices to communicate. All are unable to function in a typical elementary classroom.

In an effort to decrease isolation for our students and their families, positively effect their learning goals and provide a sustainable avenue for being INCLUDED in our larger community we pitched an idea through the High Desert ESD’s innovation process. With an investment from the Innovation [leverage] Fund we kick-started a partnership with the Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding Center, which affords 8 students the opportunity to attend Healing Reins every week.

Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding Center is the only program east of the Cascades in Oregon that offers professionally accredited adaptive horse centered therapy to children and adults who experience a diverse range of needs and abilities. A devoted team of certified instructors and staff bring horse and people together in an alternative learning environment transforming lives in the process. Specific curriculum and equine-assisted activities are designed to address all aspects of mind, body and soul. With the help of specially trained volunteers and horses carefully selected for the work Healing Reins delivers horse centered programs that develop, nurture, and preserve healthy brain and body function to improve quality of life.