Catherine Hand - MA, MFA, NARHA

Catherine Hand NARHA Advanced Instructor Catherine Hand NARHA Advanced Instructor

Catherine, a former opera designer, scenic painter university lecturer, and author changed her career after a disabling auto accident in 1989.  The accident ended her grand opera painting career, but was the beginning of a new passion. She rehabilitated herself out of a wheelchair on a horse and decided to make a career of doing this for as long as she could. She is now and has been since 1998, a certified advanced NARHA Therapeutic Riding Instructor for both cognitive and physical disabilities. A NARHA instructor must do twenty hours of continuing education each year and maintain an up to date CPR/First Aid credential.  Licensed as a Western Riding instructor, she has competed in Western Pleasure and Trail showing, but has specialized in therapeutic riding for the last fifteen years.

"July 2008 while on hospice, oxygen tank,
Lying on Treasure to heal lungs"
Catherine has two horses at Dream Rider, her therapy horse, Sailor, a former cart driving horse, who is uniquely suited to this work and her seventeen–year-old pony, Treasure, who is trained for the beginning to advanced able-bodied riders as well as the children in the therapy program. Treasure has performed in 4H, Pony Club, local horse shows and has a very sweet disposition Treasure has been a therapy pony for dozens of children at Dream Rider since 2004. In 2008, Treasure saved Catherine’s life when she allowed her, an adult to take the same therapy she’d offered the children. It was a moment of extraordinary healing and support that this wonderfully patient pony offered to her mistress in a time of great need.


"October 2008 Hippotherapy with Physical
Therapist still on oxygen, off hospice."

Prior to establishing Dream Rider in 1999, Catherine taught both children and adults at BETH, Helen Woodward Animal Center, and Canyon Acres Children’s Center. She was trained and accredited at the Fran Joswick (Shea) Center in 1998 intensive course and also studied for two years in Israel, working with CVA and brain trauma clients, primarily wounded soldiers. She especially enjoys working with autistic children, or children with neurological disabilities. Incorporating her musical and theatrical background, her lessons often combine music and art with Equine therapy. Catherine is a member of EAGALA and the NARHA Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association.

In 2007, Catherine was treated for metastatic breast cancer and underwent a long recovery, which necessitated closing her program for three years. From this experience, she decided to use her knowledge of therapeutic riding to treat her own symptoms resulting from the breast cancer treatment and also to focus on making this available to other breast cancer survivors still in recovery.
October 2009 one year later, Riding Treasure
in the Lakeside Halloween Horse Show
 off hospice, off oxygen.

In July of 2010, she reopened Dream Rider Equestrian Therapy, specializing in breast cancer rehabilitation in addition to therapeutic riding. She is able not only to conduct the therapy, but model it using herself as an example of what benefits can be gained for this particular medical condition, which has yet to be addressed by NARHA. Catherine feels that a breast cancer survivor can best be suited to mentor this rehabilitation and so has tasked herself with this role. She is eager to involve other survivors in the program as volunteer mentors for those women still struggling with impairments both psychological and physical from their treatment. She hopes in the future to attract other trained therapeutic riding instructors to join her at Dream Rider as staff or interns to spread this technique more widely to the equine therapy community.

Related Video

Instructor Demonstrates
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