The Carlisle Difference: Quality & Expertise
Carlisle Academy is committed to providing the highest quality outcomes to riders of all ages and abilities. As a PATH Premier Accredited Center and a CHA member center serving over 250 participants per year, Carlisle Academy offers several first-rate programs including the largest hippotherapy program in northern New England, the first approved equine program in Maine for disabled veterans, and pioneering education in para-equestrian sports. The Academy was recently named the Official Education Partner of the United States Para-Equestrian Association. With Carlisle’s caring and credentialed staff, the Academy has emerged as a leader in the industry.
The Academy is led by the Head of School, an Advanced Level PATH Instructor certified since 1995, maintaining a strong belief in an inclusive environment, an integrative approach, and program excellence. All instructing staff are nationally certified through either the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) or the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA), with additional specialty certifications in Vaulting, Adaptive Carriage Driving, and Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning. On-staff occupational and physical therapists are credentialed as Hippotherapy Clinical Specialists by the American Hippotherapy Certification Board, which represents the highest level of credentialing in the field, and held by under 100 therapists internationally. Additional specializations include Sensory Integration and Neuro-Developmental Treatment certifications. Professional horse handlers long line and lead horses in the Therapy & Adaptive Program, creating safe and consistent lessons. The team is rounded out by lesson apprentices and clinical interns seeking professional mentoring in therapy or education. This composition of highly talented program staff allows Carlisle Academy to function as an educational leader within our industry.
Carlisle Academy has an affiliation and/or certification through the following equestrian organizations:
The Horse – a source of health and wholeness
Working with horses embodies an inherent uniqueness that cannot be duplicated in other traditional movement-based therapies. Combined with other modalities, Carlisle Academy is playing an important complementary role in helping students make significant improvements, resulting in greater functional skill and overall life enhancement.
The Whole Person
Our programs are designed to work with the whole person and we recognize the many ways our equine partners impact a person’s body and mind to achieve overall wellness. There is real science behind this movement-based therapy, and studies show it affects riders on a biomechanical, neurological, and emotional level.
On a biomechanical level, equine-assisted therapy has a significant effect on our riders. One of the most fascinating aspects of horse movement- and a cornerstone of equine-facilitated therapy- is that the pelvic motion of a horse simulates the human walking gait. This motion has not been replicated in traditional therapy or on a piece of equipment. Through riding, the horse moves the rider’s pelvis and muscles in a rhythmic, even manner that the rider is unable to achieve on his or her own. Thus individuals with physical disabilities experience improvements in core strength, balance, and range of motion.
The horse’s movement also impacts the rider on a neurological level. The vestibular (balancing and sensing system) and proprioceptive (awareness of body movement and spatial orientation) input given by the three planes of the horse’s movement stimulate brain function and rehabilitation. Through this activity, normal developmental process like motor planning and sensory integration are significantly enhanced. When there are no other changes in a participant’s therapy regime, adding equine-assisted therapy to the mix will often result in major gains in language skill, gait mobility, and a more neurologically “organized” individual.
On an emotional level, the benefits of positive horse and human interaction are more easily identified. Developing a bond with another living creature is a powerful experience- one that can heal old experiences and create new ones. Individuals with behavioral and emotional disabilities are presented with meaningful opportunities that translate into a greater sense of connection, communication, and self esteem.
The Whole Family
The tranquility of the farm’s setting is therapeutic not only for our students, but also for their parents and caregivers, providing respite and a vital connection to the natural world. Further, by creating inclusive, family-centered programing, Carlisle Academy has been able to respond to and support the changing needs of the whole family.
The Whole Community
We help build community by encouraging students, retirees, and other community members to participate in our service-learning program as apprentices and interns. From sidewalking to tack cleaning, office support and more, we rely on our hard-working apprenticeships and interns each day to help us achieve our mission. Carlisle Academy also partners with school and universities to be a valuable resource for student from the medical and educational professions seeking practical experience and clinical study in the field. “
History & Philosophy
The program was first established in 1998 as the Equest Therapeutic Riding Center, co-founded by Nick and Sarah Armentrout on their Spring Creek Farm in Lyman, Maine. For twelve years, the program served the community with first-rate equine-assisted activities and therapies to over 500 children and adults with emotional, intellectual, and physical disabilities. From the staff to horses, facilities to the natural setting, Equest exemplified quality, innovation, and expertise.
Looking through the lens of sustainability for the future years, a new business model emerged, and in 2011, Carlisle Academy Integrative Equine Therapy & Sports, LLC was launched building upon the success of Equest, while expanding into new areas of training and leadership and integrating traditional and para equestrian education. Today the program continues to be an industry leader in exceptional programming, innovative curricula, and sustainable business practices.
The Carlisle Charitable Foundation (formerly Equest), maintaining its 501(c)(3) status, is carrying on its philanthropy by raising scholarship funds to offset tuition for Carlisle Academy’s participants.
Below are the Core Values and Beliefs that make this program what it is today.
INTEGRITY, PASSION, and EFFICACY form the cornerstones of our organization whose core reason for being is transformation – for the individual, family, and community.
- We are committed to a philosophy of inclusion in all our affairs and fostering activities that add to the richness of our social fabric.
- We are committed to providing a nurturing, compassionate, and peaceful learning environment, which allows each individual to reach his or her greatest potential.
- We hold a deep respect for humanity, animal kind, and the natural world and are committed to promoting our connectivity.
- We believe in the gift of the horse to heal, teach, empower and inspire – not only the individual, but also the family and community.
- We are committed to providing therapeutically effective services and excellence in all our equestrian programming.
- We are committed to safety as paramount in our actions and maintaining a do-no-harm approach in all our activities.
- We are committed to providing charitable and affordable access to our services through foundation-funded scholarships, fellowship, and research.
- We are committed to exploring, collaborating, and seeking counsel in the sustainability of our mission, organization, and industry.
- We are committed to an attitude of openness, teamwork and discovery in our work, while respecting a diversity of living and learning styles.
- We are committed to treading lightly upon our planet, recognizing our interdependence, and being accountable for our actions.
- We value the curative qualities of the physical landscape, both for its utility to us as well as its intrinsic beauty.
- We believe we can produce profits and superior value, by operating with these values and serving the common good.