HOW DOES IT HAPPEN: The gentle rhythmic motion of a horse stimulates the body and works the muscles of the rider in a manner similar to the human stride. Because the horse's gait is similar to the human walk, this particular therapy strengthens and supports the natural motion of the spine and pelvis. Riding and the living interaction between horse, student, and staff, foster self-confidence, trust, and the pride that comes from mastering a new skill. The team, which includes horse and human, helps in the healing of the patient with special needs. Every member of the team is chosen carefully and specially trained to perform this very important job.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS: Improved confidence, and self esteem. Balance, flexibility, range of motion, muscle tone and strength, behavior, ability to stay on task, quality of movement, decreased need for medication. Research shows that those who participate in hippotherapy and therapeutic riding can experience physical, emotional, and mental rewards. A special bond is established between horse and rider which encourages unconditional love, trust, and self-worth. This bond is an integral part of our program. The unique relationship formed with a horse can help improve interpersonal relationships. All riders can benefit from increased confidence and coping skills.

Our Team

Fran Judd has been a physical therapist for 30 years, having experience working with patients who have neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's Disease and multiple sclerosis. She is a NARHA Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor, and has a Graduate Certificate in Hippotherapy from Western Michigan University's College of Health and Human Services.

Fran has been nominated to NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) and Twice nominated to the Sonoma County Mayor's Committee for hiring individuals who have disabilities. In 2010 she received a nomination to the American Red Cross REAL HERO AWARD in the Animal Category.


Amanda Prestyly Belka is a neo-natal RN and a Registered NARHA Therapeutic Riding Instructor. She is also a Tellington-Jones TEAM Practitioner. Amanda has been with RHLC since 1999.

Michelle Christiansen has been part of the RHLC team since 2006


Copyright RHLC, 2014