In 2004, our community became interested in developing a non-profit organization specifically for individuals with special needs. Originally the name 4STEPS represented Therapy, Education, Recreation and Sport for individuals with disabilities. As the program developed, clientele became more diverse in their needs and it became apparent that was a common thread to programming and instruction. The practical aspects of the therapeutic model and instruction lead to the formation of the 4STEPS of Instruction: Balance, Forward Motion, Contact and Control, and Transition. Whatever you call it, 4STEPS means that the 4 hoof beats of a horse creates a calm, relaxed, and balanced cadence for healing and a relationship with a big furry animal that comes with unconditional love!
Diversity has been the hallmark of 4STEPS since its inception. The simplicity of the name 4STEPS implies that the 4-steps or hoof beats of a horse can produce physical and emotional healing. Special programs meet the diverse needs of children and adults with physical, emotional and/or cognitive challenges. As the equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) field has developed, awareness has grown about how life’s stresses, such as illness, accidents, abuse, grief and loss, aging, poverty and combat can pose great challenges for individuals.
4STEPS has pioneered programs and expanded offerings to address the needs of people in our community 4STEPS inherent inclusiveness has always meant reaching out to minorities, rural communities, families with children with special needs, those in group homes and residential communities—to anyone who may be out of the mainstream. In fact, it is this holistic approach and the diversity of our work that is one of the benefits of being part of this industry.
Volunteers will tell you that working with these exceptional participants, who courageously face ongoing physical, emotional, social and/or cognitive challenges, greatly enriches their own lives.
Sandy Winter, Executive Director
Avery and Whimsey pictures taken in 2012 (left) and 2022 (right).
4STEPS riders are GRITTY!
They work strenuously toward challenges and maintain effort and interest despite physical, emotional, behavioral and cognitive challenges, despite failure, adversity and plateaus in progress. GRIT requires courage, conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience and passion. You grow GRIT by being around GRITTY people.
How do you know if you have GRIT?
When you have grit you don’t get humiliated or mortified if you make mistakes. You refuse to give up, give in or get out when you know what you want, and you let nothing get in your way!
We follow safe practices wear masks, social distance hygiene, and other recommendations made by the Maryland Horse Industry Board and the State of Maryland https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MDMDA/bulletins/28a4587#.XrWz7Ih8c0k.facebook
Please inquire when making reservations.