FAQ

What does SMART stand for and what does it do?
Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy. SMART provides individuals with special needs of all kinds an opportunity to exercise their bodies, minds and spirits through a quality therapeutic horseback riding and carriage driving program.

What’s so therapeutic about riding a horse?
The benefits of riding a horse include the physical aspects of increased body awareness, improvement in balance and posture, stretching and releasing of hypertonic muscles as well as strengthening hypotonic muscles, increasing flexibility and improving coordination. Cognitively, riders are challenged to concentrate more fully and for longer periods of time, remember specific task sequencing, communicate verbally or physically with their horse and instructor, practice self discipline and control, and work through frustrations in a positive and non-aggressive manner. Emotionally, working with horses provides a pathway for the student to receive and give unconditional love. This results in a connection with another living being that leads to an increase in self confidence and self respect, as well as true sense of accomplishment.

How many horses do you have?
11 horses of all breeds---most of which have been donated to the program and all of whom are gentle, sweet and well trained for their job and 2 adorable mini horses.

How many riders do you serve?
We serve over 450 participants and their families each year.

How long has SMART been in business, is it a not-for-profit organization, and does it have any kind of accreditation?
SMART has been incorporated and designated as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization since March 2, 1987. That's over 35 years! SMART also has the distinction of being a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship Int'l Premier Accredited Center. A copy of our official registration and financial information may be obtained from the division of consumer services by Calling 1-800-435-7352 or on the website www.floridaconsumerhelp.com.

When are lessons given?
Group/Private therapeutic riding lessons are:
Tuesdays 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Wednesdays 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Thursdays  1:00 pm - 6:15 pm
Saturdays 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

I have a child with a disability who qualifies for the program, and another child who is not disabled. Could both of my children take lessons at SMART?
Yes! Our therapeutic program is set up to serve individuals with special needs and we also offer recreational lessons.

Where are you located?
We are located in East Bradenton at 4640 County Road 675 between State Road 70 and State Road 64. We are just north of Hunsader Farms. Click here for a map and directions.

How much do you charge for lessons and how long are the lessons?
We charge $60 per hour for a group therapeutic riding lesson.

We also offer private therapeutic riding lessons at $75 per half hour. This allows us to pay our volunteer instructors for their additional time at SMART.

There is an annual administrative fee of $50  that is due at the first lesson and with annual renewal applications.  There is also a $50 intake assessment fee for new riders and a $25 assessment fee for returning riders.

What types of disabilities qualify?
We serve individuals who have any type of physical, emotional or cognitive disability. We currently serve riders with attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, stroke victims, epilepsy, developmental delays, traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing and speech impairments, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, blindness, autism, and psychological or emotional challenges.

Are there age restrictions?
Individuals must be at least 4 years of age and there is no maximum age.

Are there weight restrictions?
Due to safety reasons, our Riding Program can only serve individuals who weigh less than 180 lbs.

How many volunteers to do you have?
On a weekly basis, we have between 20–35 volunteers at any given time. We have a minimum volunteer age of 14. SMART is a volunteer-powered organization---so annually, 75-100+ volunteers play a very, very important role in the effectiveness of the program. We are always eager to invite new volunteers to join us and become a part of the SMART Team.

If I want to volunteer, do I have to get trained?
Yes, we start with an orientation held on the first Saturday of each month.  Following the orientation, training is accomplished by having experienced volunteers mentor new volunteers for a period of time. Contact our volunteer coordinator via email volunteer@smartriders.org for information on the date of the next orientation. We need volunteers for hands-on horse and rider support during lessons as well as assistance with fundraising, administrative work, and facility maintenance.

Where do you get your funding?
We receive funding from Individuals (10%) Corporate and Civic contributions (9%), Special Events (28%), Foundations & Grants (35%), Program Service Fees (11%) and Manatee County Government (3%). Our annual budget is around $400,000.

What percentage of your budget is used for administrative & fundraising costs?
Our administrative and fundraising costs for 2018 were 1.38%. We have two paid staff.

Are you on social media?
Yes! Click the links here to our pages:

www.facebook.com/smartriders

www.instagram.com/smartridersfl

Do you have any sponsorship programs?
Yes. You can "Sponsor a Rider" for $2,500 which pays for a Scholarship for therapeutic riding lessons for one rider for one year. You can also "Adopt a Horse" for $250, $500 or $1,000 which helps to pay for some of the feed, vet and farrier costs for one horse for a year.

Can I visit the program?
YES! We love having visitors! Plan to visit anytime during our scheduled lessons (see #6 above)...or give us a call at (941) 322-2000 to set up an appointment for a tour.

How can I help SMART?
Become a Volunteer or help support SMART financially.

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