Horse-Assisted Therapy

Amazing things happen on the back of a horse.

The Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Horse Program "rewires" kids' brains, helping them overcome physical and emotional abuse, violence, multiple placements, and other traumas that make it difficult for them to succeed in school and at home. Our certified professionals provide several different types of horse therapies.

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy uses the horse as a tool for a licensed therapist to provide mental health treatment. Young people who ordinarily shun physical and emotional closeness with other people can often accept it from a horse. The bond between child and horse can help children develop trust, respect, affection, empathy, unconditional acceptance, confidence, responsibility, assertiveness, communication skills and self-control. To succeed with a horse, children must exercise patience, understanding, attention, forgiveness and consistency—abilities they will find useful throughout their lives. Connecting with the horse can also reduce a child’s reluctance to talk about their thoughts and feelings. By walking beside the horse and child, the therapist can connect with the child and talk about issues they are unable or unwilling to discuss in any other setting. 


Time with Winter is something to look forward to. He helps me work on my patience and anxiety. We help each other to be less anxious.

Ranch resident

Being with Rico is the only place I am relaxed. He’s my best friend. He always listens to me.

Ranch resident

I don’t know where I’d be without my horse. He helped me when I thought I couldn’t cope with life...

15-year-old girl at the Ranch

Starbucks helped my depression and trust issues. We’re building a great relationship. I’m helping him with his nervousness on the trail. It’s not all about me, it’s a team effort.

Ranch resident

Kids think I’m weird and dumb. But I’m awesome when I’m with you.

11-year-old Ranch resident to her horse, Brownstone

Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic Riding provides physical, psychological, social, and educational benefits for people with and without disabilities. Riding a horse provides a unique, and often profound, experience. A child who learns how to build a relationship with a horse can extend this to others and form meaningful relationships with people. The trust and loyalty of a horse teaches children the direct correlation between action and reaction. Riding empowers children and helps them connect on a personal level, sometimes for the first time. The unpredictable nature of a horse also creates a real-life environment in which children are able to confront their fears and make adjustments to situations beyond their control.


Quincy is in charge of safety for her herd. She values peace and collaboration. To work with her, Alex had to develop those skills too. Quincy’s greatest gift to Alex was demonstrating how to approach life with an open heart.

Ranch Therapist

Contact Us Today

For more information about our horses and how they help kids heal, contact us at