Pet Therapy

Pet Therapy


C.A.R.E.—Cornerstone Assisted Riding & Equitherapy



Serving the San Francisco Bay Area community since 1985


The C.A.R.E. training center is currently located at:


American Canyon Training Center

2130 American Canyon Road,

American Canyon, CA 94503


C.A.R.E. assists individuals with a wide variety of challenges such as: autism, asbergers, multiple sclerosis, cancer, dementia, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, visual/hearing impairments, developmental delays, schizophrenia, learning disabilities, as well as many other physical and cognitive challenges. For student questions and assessments, please contact C.A.R.E. at 888.922-7366 Ext. 1.


What is Equitherapy?


Through the ages, the horse has been a symbol of superiority, victory and triumph. The shared kinetic processes between rider and horse awakened new perceptions of horse riding in the 1970’s through its special qualities of pace and rhythm. This treatment was called Equitherapy (from the Latin word for horse, Equus) and has been in use as a form of treatment for neurological patients in Europe for more than thirty years.


In equitherapy, the horse influences the patient, whereas in normal horse riding (equitation), the rider influences the horse. The patient works with specially trained therapists who use the horse as a mobile therapeutic tool. The action of the horse, coupled with traditional therapy, will influence muscle tone, mobilize joints, activate muscle action, increase sensory-motor integration and improve balance and midline control.


C.A.R.E. believes therapeutic horseback riding lessons create a fun and meaningful activity for children, youth and adults. From bonding with the horse to achieving focus, concentration and discipline, therapeutic riding has many benefits. An emotional relationship is formed between rider and instructor and horse, allowing trust and empathy to build. Interpersonal skills are used and built upon. And the rider can also physically improve, strengthening muscles, posture and control. As a less mobile student rides, the rhythm is like walking, helping muscles to build in a gentle way. Students learn patience with themselves and others, including the horse. They also build self esteem as they improve each week. Horseback riding offers an activity for all ages, abilities and physical statures. It is one of the most beneficial activities available, combining emotional, physical and mental control in a fun and disciplined atmosphere.


Become a Student


C.A.R.E. offers both equitherapy and assisted riding. All inquiries will begin with an assessment of the student’s needs, as well as, physical and cognitive abilities. Usually, this first discussion is on the phone, and they encourage those interested to visit C.A.R.E. to view a session. If you are unsure if equitherapy will help your individual situation, they’re here to help.


Due to the size and limitations of their horses and volunteers, they are unable to accept students over 225 pounds at this time.



Mayo Clinic—Pet Therapy: Man’s Best Friend as Healer


This is Jack (also known as Dr. Jack by his colleagues). He is a Miniature Pinscher and Service Dog at Mayo Clinic.

By Mayo Clinic staff –


Animal-assisted therapy can help healing and lessen depression and fatigue.


Is medicine going to the dogs? Yes, but in a good way. Pet therapy is gaining fans in health care and beyond. Find out what’s behind this growing trend.


What is Pet Therapy?


Pet therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders.


Animal-assisted activities, on the other hand, have a more general purpose, such as providing comfort and enjoyment for nursing home residents.


How Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Work?


Imagine you’re in the hospital. Your doctor mentions the hospital’s animal-assisted therapy program and asks if you’d be interested. You say yes, and your doctor arranges for someone to tell you more about the program. Soon after that, an assistance dog and its handler visit your hospital room. They stay for 10 or 15 minutes. You’re invited to pet the dog and ask the handler questions.


After the visit, you realize you’re smiling. And you feel a little less tired and a bit more optimistic. You can’t wait to tell your family all about that charming canine. In fact, you’re already looking forward to the dog’s next visit.


Who Can Benefit from Animal-Assisted Therapy?


Animal-assisted therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a range of health problems:


  • Children having dental procedures
  • People receiving cancer treatment
  • People in long-term care facilities
  • People hospitalized with chronic heart failure
  • Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder


And it’s not only the ill person who reaps the benefits. Family members and friends who sit in on animal visits say they feel better, too.


Pet therapy is also being used in nonmedical settings, such as universities and community programs, to help people deal with anxiety and stress.


Does Pet Therapy Have Risks?


The biggest concern, particularly in hospitals, is safety and sanitation. Most hospitals and other facilities that use pet therapy have stringent rules to ensure that the animals are clean, vaccinated, well trained and screened for appropriate behavior.


It’s also important to note the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has never received a report of infection from animal-assisted therapy.


Animal-Assisted Therapy in Action


Jack, known as Dr. Jack by his colleagues, is a miniature pinscher and the first facility-based assistance dog (service dog) to join Mayo Clinic’s team in Rochester, Minn. A fully credentialed service dog, Jack has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2002.


Jack spends time with patients helping them work toward their recovery goals. For example, Jack and his trainer worked with a 5-year-old girl recovering from spinal surgery. Jack helped her relearn how to walk, taking a step backward each time she took a step forward. She also gave Jack a “checkup” each morning, which helped keep her moving. Eventually, she took Jack for walks with the help of a walker.


In addition to Jack, more than a dozen certified therapy dogs are part of Mayo Clinic’s Caring Canines program. They make regular visits to various hospital departments and even make special visits on request.