What is Shining Stars Therapeutic Ministries?

Our mission is to provide therapeutic horsemanship programs to children, adults, and families with special needs in order to improve physical, mental, emotional, and social areas of their lives.

Our Vision: We exist to embrace our community with hope and unconditional love by serving individuals with special needs in order to develop strength, build confidence, and achieve goals. At Shining Stars, families get the therapy they need from the horses they love.

Located near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Shining Stars Therapeutic Ministries (SSTM) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization serving local communities, generally in Adams and York Counties. Student registration is open to anyone 2 to 92+ years old with special needs. Instructor-guided exercises, activities, and games provide opportunities for student challenge and progress, as well as a means of recreation and enjoyment.

We have received many client referrals from surgeons, neurologists, hospitals, schools, etc., with recommendations from Hershey Medical Center, the MH/IDD organization, and United Cerebral Palsy. At present, the organization coordinates over 275 service-minded volunteers to implement its current programs. All volunteers are required to have background clearances and arena training.

Therapeutic Horsemanship can help to:

  • develop mobility, balance & coordination
  • improve muscle tone & strength
  • increase concentration & improve learning skills
  • foster independence & achievement
  • develop self confidence & motivation
  • encourage movement for those unable to walk

About Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic riding helps adults & children get the rehabilitative therapy they need. They don’t even realize that they’re getting physical therapy—they’re just having a really good time and a lot of fun while they’re doing it. Physical therapy like that can’t be found in a classroom or a doctor’s office. It’s an awesome experience for anyone involved with it.

Therapeutic Riding has been used in the United States since the 1950’s. It was found that it strengthened polio patients and increased their balance. Today, it is a tool used to help those with physical, learning, and emotional disabilities.Many riders experience a connection to the horse that inspires trust and builds self-confidence. The motion of a horse is actually a three-dimensional movement. It’s up and down, side to side, and front to back, just like the human walk, and therefore, it rehabilitates the student. It’s almost as if they were walking themselves—their body moves the same way and the pelvic motion is the same as the horse.


Therapeutic Cart Driving provides a class for those who cannot mount a horse for various reasons, such as size, weight, or confinement to a wheelchair. Students may learn to harness and also drive the carriage. Shining Stars has a specially-adapted cart with a wheelchair ramp which makes it easily accessible and very safe. Therapeutic Driving was established in England in 1975 and is growing with great success. in the United States.

In addition to the enjoyment of this recreational sport activity, disabled drivers can benefit greatly with opportunities for emotional, physical, cognitive, and social progress. Cart driving provides physical activity which can improve balance, coordination, muscle tone, and strength.. The student may be required to lift and place heavy harness pieces on the horse, using large muscle groups such as the triceps, biceps and core. Students may also learn to buckle the harness, using small muscles and dexterity control.

Practice and application of mental skills are also an important part of the driving program, especially with concentration, perception, motor coordination, and being aware of surroundings. Building trust, improving self-confidence and fostering a sense of independence are valuable emotional areas which may show student growth.

The Shining Stars Therapeutic Cart Driving program offers students a challenge to try something unique and different from any other sport. The great thrill of mobility, combined with multiple opportunities for practicing learning, provides a very special setting for students to gain progressive levels of achievement.