Frequently Asked Questions

Who does Dare to Dream serve?

Horses are therapeutic for everyone. Dare to Dream offers services to a wide range of individuals.

Children and adults with disabilities such as:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Autism
  • Hearing Impairments
  • Vision Impairments
  • Down Syndrome
  • Developmental Delays

Youth community organizations 

Military service personnel that may be living with challenges such as post-traumatic stress disorder, amputations, or traumatic brain injuries.

These are a few examples of participants who could benefit from therapeutic horsemanship.  

Can I visit?

Visitors are welcomed. We love to have guests, but we do need to schedule visits to ensure that someone will be available to provide you with a tour.  

How much does it cost?

Please see the fee schedules at the Services page. Because of the costs of providing horsemanship instruction, fees cannot be waived. Please let us know your situation and every effort will be made to accommodate you. 

Are there age limits for riders?

Children must be 4 years or older for therapeutic riding. There is no upper age limit. Potential riders are assessed during an interview ride to ensure riding is a beneficial activity for them.

When are lessons given?

Lessons are offered Tuesday through Saturday. You may contact the Dare to Dream office to inquire about the specific times and days that each program is offered.

What are the benefits of riding and working with horses?

While riding a horse, students are given the opportunity to feel freedom and power through movement. As the horse walks, the movement is transferred to the rider, providing a combination of sensory, motor, and neurological stimulation. This translates to stronger muscles, better balance and coordination, and improved gait. But just as important as the physical benefits is that greater self-confidence and self-esteem can be achieved through the freedom of movement.

What qualifies this program to provide this service?

Dare to Dream is accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International), which sets stringent safety and educational standards. Dare to Dream's instructors are PATH Intl. certified.

Who provides the Therapeutic Horsemanship Instruction?

Lessons are provided by a certified therapeutic riding instructor, certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International).  

How can I become a volunteer?

Volunteers are the life-blood of the organization and we are so grateful to each and every person who so generously gives us their time. Please review the information under the Volunteer tab and contact Marsha Lunsford to schedule an interview. 540-499-2010 or cell phone 703-774-5066. 

How can I make a donation?

Dare to Dream appreciates contributions of any size. Please click here for information about how donations can be made.  

When did Dare to Dream start?

Dare to Dream was established as a registered PATH center in 2015.

Do you take donated horses?

We wish we could provide a home for every horse who is in need of a new place to land, but horses require a tremendous amount of resources so we must only accept horses into the Dare to Dream family that are suited to serve as a therapeutic riding horse. If you have a horse that you believe would be able to meet the requirements of a therapeutic riding horse, please contact Marsha Lunsford by email at and provide some information about the horse and how she may contact you. 

How often does a student ride?

Most students ride once a week, in groups of two to four for 45 minutes. Each 45 minute lesson includes mounting and dismounting, the riding lesson, and sometimes grooming and tacking the horse. The riding sessions are typically 8 weeks long and are conducted throughout the year, beginning in April and ending in November. Camps that provide more concentrated group riding instruction will be scheduled throughout the year. 

What do students wear?

Students are required to wear long pants -riding pants, sweat pants or jeans are preferred (shorts and slippery pants are not recommended) and boots or shoes with a heel.  All students must wear an ASTM-SEI approved safety helmet when riding. Helmets are available at Dare to Dream for students who do not have a helmet with them but generally riders prefer to wear their own helmets. Please bring jackets and other warm clothing as the weather is often cooler in the mountains. It is always a good idea to dress in layers.  

What forms are required for my child to ride?

Due to insurance and Dare to Dream’s accreditation, ALL riders must have a complete set of Dare to Dream Rider paperwork filled out. The Director will provide you with a packet. 

What happens to lessons in inclement weather?

Every effort will be made to hold scheduled lessons. In the event of inclement weather, lessons will continue as planned and students will be instructed in the barn. Each session has horsemanship lessons built into the schedule, which are usually saved for rainy days. Students learn to groom the horses, learn about the tack (bridles and saddles), help with feeding the horses, etc. If Dare to Dream must cancel a lesson then every effort (phone, text, email) to reach the student and or parents will be made at least 2 hours before the lesson time. Parents can call 703-774-5066 to check on if the lesson has been canceled due to extreme weather. Lessons will only be canceled in extreme weather cases when Dare to Dream deems that it is not safe to hold a lesson on the farm.

What happens if my child is sick, or unable to make their lesson?

If you are unable to attend a scheduled lesson, please make every effort to notify Dare to Dream 24 hours in advance by calling us at 703-774-5066 or 540-499-2010. Sufficient notice is needed so that we can communicate with staff and volunteers. Based on our flat rate fee, client cancellations are not refundable. We make every attempt to schedule a make-up lesson if at all possible.

My child does not have a disability. Do I need to fill out all of the rider forms for them to be able to sign up and ride?

Yes. Dare to Dream offers limited lesson slots for individuals without disabilities All riders need to have a complete set of rider paperwork to be able to ride. This includes the Doctor’s Form, filled out and signed by the participant’s doctor. See the forms below.

Therapist Medical History Form
Physician Medical History Form
Participant Disclaimer Form
Participant Application and Release Form
Emergency Medical Authorization Form
Information Release Form
Dare 2 Dream Rules and Policy Form  

Are therapeutic riding sessions confidential?

Yes. Your privacy is important to us, and you can trust that our lessons, as well as any of your personal information, is always held in the strictest of confidence. Additionally, anything you transmit over our website is highly secure, and stored data is HIPAA-compliant.

Confidential information disclosed in therapeutic riding sessions is protected. However, there are some exceptions to this, including instances of suspected child or elder abuse, or when a student presents a serious danger of violence toward himself or herself or another person. If you’d like to learn more about our ethical standards and privileged communication exceptions, our office can provide additional information.