About Us

More about Rock Creek Riders

Rock Creek Riders, Inc. (RCR) is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization established in 2004 to raise funds to make Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) available to children and adults with physical, learning, and/or emotional disabilities.

The organization is based in Washington, DC.  Through the help of generous donations, we are able to provide local children, active duty soldiers and veterans the opportunity to heal through the power of riding.

All lessons are held at the beautiful Rock Creek Park Horse Center in Washington, DC.  Instructors for the program are certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.).  Volunteers are trained to serve as leaders and sidewalkers.

What are Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies?

Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) have been used for several decades to improve the quality of life of individuals with cognitive, emotional, social and physical disabilities.   The gentle, responsive motion of the horse provides physical stimulation that strengthens leg and trunk muscles and improves balance and coordination in riders with physical disabilities.  Instructors encourage riders to listen and follow directions, focus on the task at hand, plan ahead, work on exercises requiring teamwork, and remember instructions given in previous lessons. Riders are taught to understand and care for their horse, which builds emotional stability.

The Ridewell Program (“Ridewell”) is a program that incorporates Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) for DC-area soldiers and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).   Therapies based on the EAAT principles are particularly beneficial for brain-injured soldiers and vets, who face cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities associated with TBI and PTSD.  Participants make gains in balance, strength, coordination, memory, and attention span.   Additionally, the unique relationship formed with the horse provides them with increased confidence, patience, and self-control.

Ridewell participants are active duty soldiers and veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, drawn from area trauma rehabilitation centers.   Classes are held at the Rock Creek Park Horse Center (RCPHC), a concession run by Guest Services, in collaboration with the National Park Service and the National Park Police Mounted Horse Patrol.   RCPHC brought therapeutic riding to the nation’s attention when President Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, was shot and turned to the Center to aid in his recovery.
Building on the success of similar programs, Rock Creek Riders launched the Ridewell Program in 2008 with a unique focus on the physical and emotional needs of brain-injured soldiers and vets.   Officers with the National Park Police Mounted Horse Patrol, several of whom have been in the military themselves, have volunteered as side walkers and horse leaders.

Participants in the Ridewell Program have made tremendous strides.   Their doctors and families have noted improvements in walking and balance, as well pride and joy in their accomplishments.

We witness their extraordinary drive and inner strength, and are honored to be making a difference in their lives.



Our Board Members are:

Melissa Barrett, President
Rebecca Lafave, Vice President
Carol Federighi, Treasurer
Paula Douglas Seidel, Secretary
Atlantic McClellan, Board Member