About Us

Hope Springs Equestrian Therapy, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 1997 with the intent of providing therapeutic horseback riding (also known as "equine-facilitated therapy") .

We at Hope Springs are dedicated to making life for those facing challenges a little easier. On horseback, our riders learn that they are perhaps not as limited by their disabilities as they once thought. Says Nina Lee, parent of rider John Lee, "John loves his riding lessons. The experience has built not only his balance and motor skills, but has boosted his confidence."

Hope Springs is unique among therapeutic riding centers in that it places special emphasis on family involvement. The setting is warm and familiar and provides a safe haven for those families struggling to achieve normalcy. Parents are encouraged to watch lessons and in many cases, they walk beside the horse to observe their child's progress more closely.

Another special aspect of the program is its small size. Our team has an opportunity to work one-on-one with riders, parents and their therapists in a way that is not possible in larger programs. We are able to forge close personal bonds with the riders and their families to facilitate communication about the needs of each individual. Lesson plans for each rider are specifically tailored and include exercises designed to relax tight muscles and develop strength and endurance in weakened areas.

Our eight horses and ponies were hand picked for their gentleness and patience. They have been specially trained to meet the requirements of individuals with disabilities. They seem instinctively to know that our riders need special care. An important element of our therapy sessions is the warmth and tenderness that our riders develop for their horses and the feeling of self-sufficiency that riders develop by learning to care for their horses.

Mission Statement

The mission of Hope Springs Equestrian Therapy is to enhance the quality of life of individuals with cognitive, physical, emotional or behavioral disabilities by providing them with affordable therapeutic horseback riding and associated special education of the highest possible quality, in a warm, safe and familiar environment.

Membership and Affiliations:

  • PACTH Member (PA Council for Therapeutic Horsemanship)
  • PANO (Pennsylvania Association for Non-Profit Organizations.
  • United Way

Hope Springs Equestrian Therapy is a nonprofit, nonstock corporation organized under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The organization is tax-exempt under Section 501c (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. We are a member of the PA Council on Therapeutic Horsemanship and the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

HSET Board of Directors

Kenneth R. Swimm, Chairman
Sandra L. Hansen, President
Jan Brooks, Vice President
Ted Aicher, Treasurer
Jane Ann Yankelitis, Secretary
Amy Bullivant
Tammy Gingrich
Julie Kingery
John Rugh
Mary Ann Plankinton
Kent Smith
Jill Yankelitis

Founder

Elena Gonzalez Shaffer

Executive Director / Senior Instructor

Jeannie Knowlton

Program Director / Instructor

Dallas Knowlton

Riding Instructors

Lauren Eder
Helen Garthwaite
Dallas Knowlton
Melanie McCartney
Jesse Bickel

Volunteer Coordinator

Lindsey Ferrara

Fall 2018 Newsletter