We so enjoyed our time at American Therapeutic Riding Center (ATRC) here in Sand Springs. The property was breathtaking and the people were so kind. Many people in the Sand Springs area are not aware but ATRC was previously an Arabian horse farm. ATRC,  founded in 2007 by Kenneth and Vicki Burkett, is a nonprofit organization and a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship Center Member (P.A.T.H.). Before opening to the public, August of 2008, the inspirational decision was made to prepare the idle barn and stables to become the American Therapeutic Riding Center.  Over the first 5 years, they have grown to 70-75 riders and 10 program horses.  We learned that ATRC provides opportunities for  individuals with varying ability levels  (cognitive, emotional, physical) to challenge themselves by setting goals to improve quality of life through equine facilitated therapy.
The goal at ATRC is to help each  individual become as independent as possible in their daily life. This is a place where individuals of all ages can experience a quality of life change through the use of horses. All instructors are P.A.T.H. certified and each  client (rider) has a lesson plan tailored to their specific  challenges and goals.    A rider’s introduction to their program is a test ride, a time when they can meet our team and horses.  During their first lesson the very first thing is to give them a shot of confidence quickly by allowing them to be a success on their horse.  This helps them to realize that they can do things they did not think possible due to their challenges.  
Denise Ward, the Executive Director, has been with ATRC for over 7 years now.  She started coming out to help a few hours a week and her heart quickly became attached.  After being in the corporate world for 30 years and growing up in a ministers family, she says that “This is where business and ministry collide perfectly for me.”  You can hear how much her heart is in ATRC as she speaks.  To her, it’s about experiencing individuals (staff, volunteers and  riders)coming together for a moment in time to become one and work towards one cause.
“ I am amazed what a small group of people with a lot of talent and huge hearts can do when we come together and combine our life’s experiences and skill sets.  While we are making a difference in the lives of others, our lives are also changed.  There’s something that happens when you get involved in a greater cause even if for only 30 minutes a week.”
Equine activities are used to achieve goals, with the horse being a strong motivator for accomplishing those goals.  Horses are at the center of every task within the lesson plan, such as  playing basketball, placing hoops on pegs, standing in the stirrups with arms stretched out, simply riding the horse and even grooming. They put a strong emphasis on keeping things positive, enjoyable and relaxing which contributes to the benefits of socialization, posture, strength, mobility and overall improved quality of life.
ATRC is truly changing the lives of everyone who comes into contact with them.  They are always in need of volunteers.  Individuals or groups in areas like marketing, business, graphic arts, events, fundraisers, and of course anything related to horses.  For rider and volunteer results see stories and more information on how you can get involved, check out their website: OR their Facebook Page