About Us

Innovative programs

We offer riding lessons and horsemanship for all abilities and ages, summer camp opportunities, and we even use our horses in equine assisted psychotherapy programs and speech/language therapy.  Equine assisted programs can carry over to creative corporate training and leadership events. 

Horses as teachers

We believe in the power of horses to bring hope, healing and transformation to people of all abilities and ages. At Bright Star Equestrian Centre, our trained instructors help people with special needs, and individuals recovering from emotional trauma improve physically, mentally, and emotionally through encounters with horses in a safe and supportive environment.

Helping people find a purpose

Every one wants to find a purpose, a way to contribute more fully to their families, schools, organizations and community. It is our privilege to play a part in helping people work toward that goal.

About Our Programs

Therapeutic Riding

therapeutic horseback riding

The cornerstone of Bright Star is our riding program for disabled and special needs children and adults. With our PATH® Certified riding instructors and trained volunteers, we are focused on creating a safe and encouraging experience for our riders.  

Our program for individuals with special needs works to improve  physical, mental and emotional health through interactions with our horses and instructors, as they learn horsemanship and riding techniques.

Register for Therapeutic Riding

Recreational Riding

Recreational Horseback riding lessons

We also offer private and group lessons for recreational riders of all ages and riding skill levels work with one of our  qualified riding instructors.

Some of our recreational riders are family members of riders in the Therapeutic Riding program.  We really encourage everyone to get in on the fun (and learning!) alongside their family member. 


Behavioral Health Therapy


Using the EAGALA® model, we offer programs for hope and healing of emotional trauma for clients, either as a referral from your mental health provider or through our team of certified specialists.  

Using horses to help people with eating disorders, depression, PTSD, emotional trauma, as well as other mental health challenges, our program integrates with our client's traditional behavioral health therapies and can help toward overcoming barriers and to jumpstart progress.

We partner with Pastures of Hope to offer workshops, retreats and seminars for improving mental and emotional health. 

For more information on how to enroll, email Julie Ponder at jul2ponder@gmail.com.  

Functional Futures Therapy for Speech & Language Help

speech therapy for kids

Our equine-assisted speech therapy sessions are uniquely designed to enhance traditional therapy techniques by engaging students with horses. 

Kimberly Grotts, MS, CCC-SLP, leads the program. Kim is a licensed Speech & Language Pathologist and Early Intervention Trained Therapist & Evaluation Specialist who has completed Level 1 and Level 2 Hippotherapy training through the  American Hippotherapy Association. "Hippotherapy" is an evidence- based treatment acknowledged by the American Speech Language Association as beneficial and effective.

Call Kim at 309-313-2428 to enroll.


When our son first heard about coming to Bright Star, he wanted no part of it!  

But now, he loves coming!  

Bright Star has been such a positive experience for him. He connects with the horses, and has developed friendships with several of the volunteers and his instructor. I have seen so many positive changes in him, but mostly how connected he has become to the people around him. Before Bright Star, he went nowhere, spoke to no one. 

The social changes that started at Bright Star extend their reach well beyond the pasture fences!  

- Mother of son with Asperger's talking about our life-changing equine program

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