About PRDA

Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities was established in 1973 to provide therapeutic horseback riding to individuals with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. For over 44 years, we've been giving youth and adults with varying  disabilities the chance to bond with horses, make lasting friendships, have fun, and receive therapy at the same time. PRDA provides a caring and welcoming environment, and we pride ourselves on being a safe place for people to experience new things. We want our riders to feel like they can challenge themselves knowing that there is a strong support system in place for them should they require help.

Equine assisted therapy has long been recognized as an excellent means of providing physical, psychological, social and recreational benefits to children and adults with disabilities. Balance and coordination, increased confidence, group activity and excitement of movement "free of any mechanical aids" are some of the many benefits.

Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people with a wide range of disabilities. PRDA is recognized as a leader in providing equine assisted therapeutic activities and educational opportunities in an environment that is safe, fun and effective.


Check out our constitution and bylaws here.



Our History

In January of 1973, PRDA was incorporated under the Society Act, an initiative of the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre and the Southlands Riding Club of Vancouver.  The first programs were held at SRC, and our Vancouver Branch continues to operate from SRC.  Shortly after, a branch began operating in Langley, and land was very generously willed to us by Phae Collins.  The head office continues to operate in Langley, and each year we have the Phae Collins Memorial Horse Show - is a very popular annual event at PRDA, drawing riders and families from other therapeutic riding facilities. Our current facility, surrounded by Campbell Valley Regional Park, has been home to PRDA since May 1998. In 2002, we completed a second covered arena, which has allowed us to increase our rider capacity.  Our latest projects have included enclosing the second covered arena, building new paddocks for our herd and adding shelters to the new paddocks.  We run three sessions per year, accommodating over 150 riders per session, and an inclusive fourth session in the summer.  



Our Mission & Objectives


Through equestrian activity and with the involvement of the community, we enhance the quality of life for individuals with a wide range of challenges.

The PRDA objectives as stated under the constitution are:

* To provide horses, ponies and riding facilities for children and adults with disabilities, subject to the consent of their medical    advisor, in order to promote their physical, psychological and social well-being;  

  • * To enlist the support and cooperation of riding groups and societies throughout British Columbia; 

  • * To enlist the practical support of the general public by providing them with relevant information, films, lectures to encourage them to volunteer their services;

  • * To solicit, receive and accept funds by gift, bequest or otherwise and apply these funds to the functioning of the Society; 

  • * To endeavor to support financially and practically any new member groups forming in the Province of British Columbia.



Benefits of Therapeutic Riding

Doctors and rehabilitation specialists are increasingly recommending therapeutic riding for their patients with disabilities. Research shows that riders who participate in equine assisted therapy can experience physical, emotional and psychological rewards. Because horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength. For individuals with mental or emotional disabilities, the relationships formed with the horse, the instructors and the other riders can lead to increased confidence, patience and self-esteem. The bonds formed between the horses, riders, and volunteers are very powerful, and they are incredible to watch. Imagine the joy of escaping crutches or a wheelchair to find independence and freedom on the back of a horse.


Psychological benefits

  • General sense of well-being
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Emotional control and self-discipline
  • Social benefits
  • Interaction and the development of friendships with volunteers
  • Development of respect and love for animals
  • Increased experiences

Physical benefits

  • Improved balance
  • Strengthened muscles
  • Improved coordination, faster reflexes and better motor planning
  • Decreased spasticity and greater flexibility
  • Increased range of motion of the joints
  • Improved respiration and circulation
  • Sensory integration

Educational benefits

  • Sequencing, patterning and motor planning
  • Differentiation between objects
  • Improved eye-hand coordination and visual spatial perception





History of Therapeutic Riding

 (from Strides Therapeutic Riding,


It is not clear when riding for person with disabilities became a specialized field, but history records people with disabilities riding horses as early as the days of the ancient Greeks. Orbasis of ancient Lydia documented the therapeutic value of riding in 600 B.C. Even then, it was acknowledged that riding was more than a means of transportation; it was also a way of improving the health and well-being of people with disabilities.


The first study of the value of riding as therapy was reported in 1875. French physician Cassaign used riding as a treatment for a variety of conditions, and concluded that it was helpful in the treatment of certain kinds of neurological disorders by improving posture, balance and joint movement, as well as psychological improvements.


At the turn of the century, England recognized riding for the disabled as a beneficial form of therapy and offered riding therapy for wounded soldiers at the Oxford Hospital during World War I. By the 1950s, British physiotherapists were exploring the possibilities of riding as therapy for all types of disabilities. The British Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) was founded in 1969 with the enthusiastic support of the Royal Family.


Riding therapy was introduced in Scandanavia in 1946 after two devastating outbreaks of poliomyelitis. Liz Hartel, an accomplished horsewoman, was stricken with the disease. Although surgery and physiotherapy helped her to walk again with the aid of crutches, she was determined to ride independently again and began daily supervised riding sessions to improve her muscle strength and coordination. Liz Hartel brought attention to riding for persons with disabilities when she won the silver medal for Dressage at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games. She and Ulla Harpoth, a physical therapist from Copenhagen, went on to use horses as therapy for their patients.


Therapeutic Horseback Riding came to both the United States and Canada in 1960, with the formation of the Community Association of Riding of the Disabled.


In the United States, riding for persons with disabilities developed as a form of recreation and as a means of motivation for education, as well as for its therapeutic benefits. In 1969 the Cheff Center for the Handicapped was established in Michigan, and remains the oldest center specifically for people with disabilities in the United States. The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) was founded in 1969 to serve as an advisory body to the various riding for the disabled groups across the United States and its neighboring countries. NARHA provides safety guidelines and training, certifies therapeutic riding instructors, accredits therapeutic riding centers according to its own high standards, disseminates information, and offers low-cost insurance to its member organizations.


Today, disabled riders demonstrate their remarkable accomplishments in national and international sport riding competitions. Hippotherapy (physical therapy on horseback, using the horse as the therapist) has developed as a medical field recognized by most major countries. Equine Facilitated Mental Health, Equine Experiential Learning and other forms of therapy involving horses are gaining in popularity. Medical doctors, psychiatrists, physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, and teachers all refer patients and students to specialized therapeutic riding programs. Therapeutic riding has become a well recognized and acclaimed method of improving the lives of those who refuse to let their disabilities limit them.



Visit these Web sites for more information on Therapeutic Riding


Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA): 


Professional Assosiation of Therapeutic Horsmanship International: (PATH Intl):