Lichen Oaks Adaptive Riding Center Expands Services

After volunteering at Lichen Oaks Adaptive Riding Center (LOARC) in Felton for two years, Felton resident Kristy Newstrom has been certified as a therapeutic riding instructor by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.).

Newstrom spent eight months preparing to take the challenging certification exam under the tutelage of Melissa Abbey, a PATH-certified therapeutic riding instructor and equine specialist in mental health and learning at LOARC, and Elizabet Hiatt, center barn manager. To achieve the esteemed certification, Newstrom demonstrated: knowledge of horsemanship, knowledge of how to teach people with any type of mental or physical disability, instructional techniques that accommodate special needs, knowledge of how to use special equipment to compensate for disabilities, concern for safety factors unique to persons with disabilities, as well as her own personal riding skills. Part of the examination was conducted in person at the Naples Therapeutic Riding Center in Naples, Florida, and some tests were on-line.

From Past Time to Passion

“I have found my life’s passion at Lichen Oaks Adaptive Riding Center, and I am honored to be part of a program that brings so much joy to our riders and their families,” said Newstrom. “It’s so rewarding to see how adaptive riding can also improve riders’ self-confidence, communications skills, and physical abilities,” she added.

Newstrom has had a fascination and affinity for horses most of her life, riding occasionally, and working with her friends’ horses. In 2015 while visiting Ojai, Ca, she met a therapeutic riding Instructor who introduced her to the art of working with horses and humans in a therapeutic manner. On the same trip, a friend of hers told her that she should work with horses, because she has a way of working with them that is empathetic, kind, and straightforward. From that moment forward, Kristy has been learning, working, volunteering and doing all she can to be a skillful therapeutic riding instructor.

About Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic riding offers the opportunity for the rider to view and experience the world in a unique manner—from astride a powerful horse. It supports physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual healing and growth. Horses serve as “therapists” in this journey of exploration, facilitated by qualified, competent certified PATH Intl. riding instructors and a support team of committed, trained volunteers. LOARC horses serve as resident “therapists,” and are seen by our participants as non-judgmental friends.

Center Expands Hours

With the addition of newly PATH-certified therapeutic riding instructor Newstrom, LOARC has expanded its hours of operation, from three to six days a week, Monday through Saturday morning. The center is currently enrolling new students. For more information about enrollment or how adaptive riding can be of value to people of all ages with specials needs, email Melissa Abbey at, call 831-335-2347, or visit

About Lichen Oaks Adaptive Riding Center

Founded in fall, 2014, LOARC offers equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) for ages five through adult. The Center is dedicated to healing body, mind and spirit, and creating a joyful experience for riders and their families. LOARC is a Member Center of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) and a 501(c) 3 nonprofit serving the San Lorenzo Valley and surrounding areas. The center is located at 114 Quail Hollow Rd, Felton, CA.

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