ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship Overview

Mission:  At ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship, children and adults with disabilities move beyond their boundaries through the healing power of the horse and the dedication of a professional and caring community.

Founded in 2007 by community leaders Bill and Priscilla Darling and their daughter Landon Darling Schneider, ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship (ManeGait) is a PATH Premier Accredited Equine Center located on 14 beautiful acres of rolling pasture in Collin County. ManeGait’s nationally recognized equine therapy programs help clients achieve individual goals while focusing on quality of instruction and the active engagement of the North Texas community. 

“We have seen riders take their first steps, say their first words and achieve an emotional connection for the first time, all because of the power of riding the horse.”
– Pris Darling, Co-Founder

As a result of ManeGait programs, riders are reaching milestones they once thought impossible. They are learning to move, walk, and connect with others and their environment in new and exciting ways. The great strides we celebrate in the arena translate to a better quality of life for our clients and their families.

ManeGait Programs
Therapeutic Riding: ManeGait provides weekly therapeutic riding lessons to 135 adults and children with physical, emotional, cognitive, sensory and behavioral disabilities. Certified instructors lead the program with the assistance of 350 volunteers (per week) and 20 skilled therapy horses. Riding a horse provides a multi-dimensional movement pattern similar to the human gait. This motion influences the rider’s body leading to increased flexibility, core strength, motor skills and intellectual functioning. What makes equine therapy unique is that it does not feel like traditional occupational, physical, or speech therapy to our clients. Horseback riding is an exciting and rewarding sport, and ManeGait provides a fun, enriching, and supportive environment for our riders to reach their potential.
GaitWay to the Brain: In 2013 ManeGait developed and launched an innovative program called GaitWay to the Brain (GaitWay). GaitWay is the first program of its kind to extend the benefits of equine therapy by integrating brain-building exercises and stimuli into the framework of therapeutic riding. These exercises help to build pathways in the brain and improve brain-body integration, which increases the rider’s ability to self-regulate, focus, verbalize, and physically perform tasks. Early successes and outcomes of the GaitWay program have generated demand for expansion and drawn interest in replication from other therapeutic riding centers. It has also resulted in a research partnership with Texas Woman’s University to study the effects of cognitive therapy used in conjunction with therapeutic riding.
Therapeutic Carriage Driving: Carriage driving is a form of equine-assisted therapy, which provides many of the same physical, mental, and emotional benefits of therapeutic riding. Instead of riding horseback, however, participants drive the horse while riding in a horse-drawn carriage. ManeGait is the first riding center in Collin County to offer a therapeutic driving program. The program provides individually tailored therapy services to special needs adults and children, specifically those who are unable to participate in therapeutic riding due to weight, allergies to the horse, or disability that prohibits from safely mounting or riding a horse.
HART (Horses And Riders Together): ManeGait’s HART program establishes ownership and horse tending skills by giving riders real barn responsibilities such as grooming, feeding and cleaning stalls.

Our Clients
Our clients range from 3 to 71 years of age; 85% are under the age of 21. Riders come from five North Texas counties including: Dallas, Denton, Collin, Grayson and Rockwall. Disabilities served include Autism Spectrum Disorder (23%); Cerebral Palsy (12%); Intellectual Disability (10%); Developmental Delay; Asperger Syndrome; Down Syndrome; Attention Deficit Disorder; speech, hearing and visual impairments; among others.Disabled Veterans: ManeGait is expanding and customizing our programs to serve the needs of injured/disabled veterans. The Veteran Program is expected to grow to serve 15 veteran participants per year.
ManeGait Funding Model

ManeGait’s nonprofit model takes into account that families spend a significant proportion of their income caring for a child with disabilities. To help these families, ManeGait is committed to offsetting the true cost of equine therapy by offering our rider families a reduced fee structure. This ensures no rider is denied the health benefits of therapeutic riding due to the inability to pay. Less than 15% of ManeGait’s operating budget is funded through rider fees. The remaining revenue is generated through individual donors, corporate sponsorships, foundation grants and community support.

ORGANIZATIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS
  • After only three years (2010), ManeGait achieved the highest industry designation as a PATH Premier Accredited Equine Center. This is a peer-reviewed accreditation, stating that ManeGait meets all administrative, facility, and program standards set forth by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.
  • In 2010, ManeGait successfully completed a $250,000 capital improvement project, building the High Five covered outdoor arena allowing riding lessons to continue rain or shine.
  • Over the last four years, ManeGait has secured $83,500 in gifts to replace 72% of our herd, reducing the average age of our therapy horses from 18 to 14 years old, increasing the overall physical wellness of the herd, and enabling us to increase our ridership by 57%.
  • In 2013-14, ManeGait received over $55,000 in gifts to launch the groundbreaking GaitWay to the Brain program.
  • ManeGait has grown to serve 135 adults and children with disabilities each session and provides more than 3,500 hours of client services a year.
ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship
3160 N. Custer Road
McKinney, Texas 75071
(469) 422-6374

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