Our Programs

ACF Riding Club

For many of the children, who have severe abuse histories and a fear of emotionally connecting with other people, the ACF Riding Club will provide an opportunity to begin forming emotional attachments in a less threatening environment – with a horse. The children will be taught horsemanship skills by a certified riding instructor and volunteer staff and take part in numerous activities with their assigned horses. An equine facilitated therapist will assist the children throughout their equine activities while working with them to relate lessons they learned from the horses back to their every day lives. Helping them gain life skills, such as, honesty, trust, integrity, respect, and anger management, with the belief that horsemanship skills will grow as a natural result of the child’s growth in these other areas.

Foster children face huge challenges everyday. Learning to control a horse is not only uplifting, but it gives the children a sense of control when at other times their life circumstances may make them feel powerless. The goal for each child is to become an independent rider, but we’ll set smaller attainable goals each week. For some children this may be the first time in a long time that they have actually worked towards something positive they’ve put up a impenetrable barrier with a "know it all" attitude and that there is nothing else to learn. Quickly they are confronted with the truth; there is always more to learn, more to gain, all the while achieving more personal growth.

By learning assertive body language and decisive cues through horsemanship the children will experience a special bonding relationship with their horse. The child will take on the role of caregiver as they work together. This relationship builds on trust, honesty and respect. Sometimes this is the first true relationship of give and take that a child develops. Once the deep and meaningful bond is formed there is no other horse in the world for that child.

We will also involve the children with the day–to-day care of the horses helping them to learn new vocational skills. By feeding, grooming, and caring for the animals the children begin to demonstrate responsibility, commitment & compassion. Learning how to be successful with horses gives the children the confidence and skills they need to work towards goals in other areas of their lives.

Personalized Care & Attention

The ACF Riding Club was designed for children interested in horses & learning to ride. “Learning Lessons” will provide a hands-on horse course and class room instruction. Individual and group lessons will be available depending on the child’s skill and confidence levels, in addition to passing the written and riding test. Lessons will also include riding in pairs to promote teamwork while focusing on gaining riding skills and a mastery of horsemanship. Once a child has progressed to the next level they will be asked to share their knowledge with others and will ultimately be assigned a “project” horse, in doing so the child will be learning to teach and is able to gain further confidence in themselves and their ability to affect other people.


Activities will include basic horse behavior, herd interaction and dynamics, riding ring activities, games, riding to music, groundwork, body language and the importance of non-verbal communication, everyday care, grooming and bathing, hoof and vet care, tacking up, cooling out after riding, horse tack and care of equipment.

  • Children will be assigned a horse to care for during their lesson program.
  • Horse & barn safety.
  • Learn to love, care for & respect the horse.
  • Learn how to get along & respect themselves & other people.
  • Team activities
  • Half hour classroom session.
  • Handouts & worksheets will be provided to assist the children in lesson programs.
  • Completing a written study guide.
  • Exhibiting their knowledge about horses.
  • Pass written & riding test to advance in horsemanship levels.
  • Next levels require students to teach other students the skills they have gained.



Handouts & Worksheets

Click on an image or link below to download Handouts & Worksheets

  1. Western Saddle
  2. Western Bridle
  3. Types of Western Saddles
  4. English Saddle
  5. English Bridle
  6. Types of English Saddles
  7. Parts of the Horse
  8. Stable Management
  9. Riding Levels
  10. Riding Lessons – Level 1 –Western
  11. Riding Lessons – Level 2 – Western
  12. Riding Lessons – Level 3 - Western
  13. Riding Lessons – Level 1- English
  14. Riding Lessons – Level 2- English
  15. Riding Lessons – Level 3 - English
  16. Sample Test – Level 1
  17. Sample Test – Level 2
  18. Sample Test – Level 3

Living Skills & Self-Esteem

Animal Husbandry, ACF Wilderness Adventure Program, EAA Young Eagle Program, Rocket Program, Equine Photography, Salon Makeovers, Sewing Class, Cooking with Meg, Art Lessons, ACF Equestrian Program, Field Trips, Exploring Career Choices.


Expressive Arts & Recreation

Art Classes, My Little Pony Parties (ponies, face painting & pizza), Ice Cream 101, Miniature Horse Adventure, Dance Classes, Theme Days, Clown Day, Magical Day, Puppet Shows, Pirate & Princess Parties, Super Hero Cartoon Party, Cinderella’s Ball, Fall Fairies, Sports Programs, Theater/Drama Classes, Hiking, Fishing, Beach BBQ’s.

To learn more about any of our programs, please call
(805) 403-8103 or email us at - programs@acfchildren.org