StableStrides was founded by Gay O'Rourke when a community member asked for therapeutic horseback riding lessons for their child with a disability in 1981. Gay incorporated on March 30, 1982 and was approved as a 501(c)3 on August 9, 1982 as individuals and members of the medical community continued to request adaptive riding services.
Over the years, StableStrides has grown to meet the needs of the local community by modifying and adding program services. At first, Adaptive Riding services were offered. Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy services were introduced in June 1989 at the request of therapists working at Memorial Hospital (now UCHealth), as there was no other professionally credentialed avenue for this service in the area. In 1993, StableStrides served the organization's first military clients. After forming a partnership with Cedar Spring Hospital and Griffith Centers for Children, Mental Health Therapy was introduced in 2010 to meet the community's growing need for mental health services.
In 2000, StableStrides took steps to become the region's only Premier Accredited Center with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH), an internationally recognized certification and accreditation organization for the equine-assisted activities and therapy industry. StableStrides continues to maintain this status, the highest available, ensuring that only the highest level of quality and safety are provided to clients. This status also qualifies StableStrides as the only area center qualified to serve veterans and service members in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Project. Many area agencies partners also prefer to work with centers holding this status. All StableStrides therapeutic riding instructors are also certified with PATH and participate in ongoing training.
In 2015, StableStrides officially opened a satellite location at the Norris Penrose Event Center, which provides mental health services inside Colorado Springs city limits, after a two-year pilot proved the need. This satellite location provides access to services for individuals who do not have the means/ability to travel to StableStrides' main location east of Colorado Springs.
As the oldest and largest adaptive riding center in the region, StableStrides continues to provide therapeutic and rehabilitative services to over 700 individuals with physical and mental disabilities each year. We use proven methods to serve clients, with the horse serving as the method of intervention. Ultimately StableStrides clients increase their overall independence, confidence, and wellness via their experience at StableStrides.
StableStrides helps ensure a variety of effective therapeutic services are available and accessible to the residents of the Pikes Peak Region. Over 74,000 El Paso County residents have a disability. El Paso County is home to 53,696 veterans and five military installations, with military populations having documented need for therapeutic services. A 2020 study from the Colorado Attorney General determined that available data indicates "an overall concern for residents of all ages" in regard to suicide risk in El Paso County, which was also home to one sixth of the entire state of Colorado's opioid-related deaths in 2019. Combined, these populations demonstrate the need for access to varied therapeutic services in El Paso County.
Additionally, most health agencies are unable to provide equine-assisted services along with other therapeutic services due to the costs, facility, and expertise required. Numerous area health agencies including Children's Hospital Colorado, UCHealth/Memorial Hospital, Cedar Springs Hospital, Fort Carson's Evans Army Community Hospital, and many others rely on StableStrides' services to ensure their clients have access. This reliance is due to our continued commitment to excellence, each client's needs, and maintaining PATH Premier Accredited Center status.