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The Midland County 4-H Exceptional Riders Program, also known as Tall in the Saddle (TIS), was started in the Spring of 1976 through the interest of local friends and parents. The initial purchase of equipment was made with donated funds. The program was then, and continues to be entirely supported and run by volunteers.

Our program is able to accommodate 20 students and maintains a "waiting list" from which substitute riders are called. Applicants to our program are reviewed by a state licensed occupational or physical therapist and our instructors. Applicants are accepted within the age range of 8 years to 25 years old. Once in the program students may remain riding until the age of 25 years as long as the student continues to benefit from the program. Please see the admission policies on the back of our application for more information. They are available by contacting the Midland County MSU Extension office.

We offer weekly classes via Spring and Fall Sessions which normally are eight weeks in length. Our classes are held at local privately owned farms and both program and privately owned horses are used.

Classes are geared to individual riders and are coordinated with their abilities in mind. They are taught to ride - not taken for a ride. Some students may never master riding independently but all will benefit in balance, posture, and coordination. Improvements come gradually as the riders progress in skill levels.

Horseback riding is a therapeutic form of recreation for people with the following disabilities:

  • Mental impairment
  • Emotional and learning impairment
  • Hearing and visual impairment
  • Physical impairment

Horseback riding and following commands from a trained instructor builds concentration skills, muscle control, self-esteem, and self-confidence. The horse provides a freedom that many of our riders do not experience in daily life. The horse is an equalizer that gives the student a chance to achieve a talent that other children can achieve.

Our instructors received certification from Cheff Center and PATH and maintain 4-H Proud Equestrian Program (PEP) certification to teach in Michigan by attending a mandatory annual Instructor Update sponsored by MSU Extension.