Mission:     Partnering with our horses, we challenge individuals with special needs to reach their fullest potential.

Purpose:    To improve the physical and/or neurological status of individuals with physical and mental disabilities through the utilization of the horse as the most effective treatment tool. To apply our special human and horse resources to enhance and improve physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual learning and growth where we can make a difference.
 
Vision:       We envision a time when everyone who could benefit will receive our Hippotherapy services.

 

Building the Dream

It all began in the summer of 1994 – Mary Nastan, a registered physical therapist, was operating a hippotherapy program in a local barn on Laurel Road in Nokomis, Florida. It was at this same barn that Donna Blem, a recent business graduate, was boarding her horse. Mary needed volunteers, so she recruited Donna. Together they took Mary’s Hippotherapy knowledge and Donna’s equestrian experience and incorporated it into the Smith Center for Therapeutic Riding.

Sam Smith was a central part of getting the initial program started during its first year of operation. Throughout the years, the program grew and changed in every possible way. Mary and Donna realized that they needed a name for their Hippotherapy program to reflect who they were and what the future held. After many meetings with a group of dedicated staff and volunteers that perfect name came to light – “InStride”.

InStride represents everything about the organization – it is the stride of the horse that challenges and enhances InStride’s special riders. As the riders fall into rhythm with their therapy horse their hips begin to move with the horse’s hips, their shoulders move with the horse’s shoulders, their heads move with the horse’s head. Their entire body follows the same stride as the horse. In that perfect moment, you will see the horse and rider in sync, as well as the leader of the horse and both sidewalkers, walk with the same stride and footfall as the therapy horse. It is the moment we strive for - everyone “InStride”. Upon incorporation in 2006, the name was officially changed to InStride Therapy, Inc.

1995: InStride started on the road to independence by purchasing its first therapy horse.

1996: The program moved to a private barn at the Sarasota Polo Club in Lakewood Ranch, Florida and acquired six more therapy horses funded by the Plantation Foundation, Venice Foundation, and generous individuals. Additionally, a horse trailer was purchased with a grant from the Selby Foundation. 

1998:  InStride found its home on a beautiful 76-acre site in Nokomis, Florida. The property is accessible to clients, has established riding trails, and is cleared providing good grazing resources. With the assistance of Cook Springs and dedicated volunteers the property became a facility to safely house the horses and run the program.

2000: InStride Therapy became the equestrian center for the Sarasota County Special Athletes.

2001: InStride provided recreational riding to qualified campers of the Foundation for Dreams.

         Following a highly successful capital campaign, InStride Therapy was able to purchase the leased Nokomis site in July 2001. The cost of the land with due diligence and feasibility studies was $1,000,000. InStride Therapy received a commitment from the Bolger Foundation for $200,000 of this cost. Additional funding was acquired through contributions by local foundations, corporations, individuals, and special fundraising events.

 2003: The remaining balance on the property acquisition was fully funded by an anonymous foundation.

           Easter Seals partnered with InStride for Hippotherapy services.

 2009: InStride celebrated our Grand Opening in the Family Center with more than 200 old and new friends! What a great time and welcome relief!

2010:  We moved into our new facilities; a 28 stall barn, office, 200' x 110' covered arena, and outdoor family center and caretaker residence. The dream was now fully realized!

             InStride began hosting its annual family-centered event - GIDDY UP & Grand BBQ. Since then attendance has exceeded nearly 500 new and old friends each year.

2011:    PATH (Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship) selected InStride to host an International Certification and Workshop for 20 students from all over the U.S. and Canada.  Four InStride staff and volunteers received their Registered Instructor certificates at this workshop.

2013: InStride hosted the 1st Parelli "Horses Helping Humans" workshop, drawing participants from all over North America, Hawaii and Australia to connect Parelli Professionals with the miracles of Hippotherapy services. A very powerful experience!

Present Day:  InStride continues to build its Natual Horsemanship clinics and workshops staying committed to our original mission and values.