Rainbow Riders Therapeutic Horseback Riding Center was founded in 2005, by Joe and Karen Angotti, just outside the city limits of Monmouth. What started with one rider and one horse has blossomed into a program with seven horses and an average of 50 riders each year from all across the area.
Karen was a native of Monmouth and grew up on the land that Rainbow Riders now exists on. Having assisted with a therapeutic horseback riding program at a volunteer capacity in a different location, it quickly became a dream of Karen’s to found a center of her own in the area in which she grew up. She wanted to give back to the community that had provided for her initially. Following Joe’s retirement from NBC News in NYC, the two moved back to Monmouth to develop what is now known as Rainbow Riders. Community members helped them repair an old barn, build a grass-covered arena and put up sheds. Karen and Joe purchased the first horse for the program and then they were set. Karen had her Masters in Special Education, was passionate about helping those with special needs, and also wanted to provide support for the families.
Over the years, Rainbow Riders has gradually grown into the program that it is today. Rainbow Riders is an accredited center through PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International), and all Rainbow Riders instructors have received certification through PATH as well. In addition, Rainbow Riders has expanded to include additional programs to meet the needs in our community and surrounding area.
Rainbow Riders initially began expanding by adding special ‘Camp Rainbow’ days for adult residents at both Warren Achievement Center in Monmouth and DD Homes in Galesburg. This provided for campers to participate in a variety of stimulating activities with the horses and our nature trails.
Once again, in 2011 Rainbow Riders expanded to include the Youth Volunteer Leadership Program. This program allows for children ages 8-11 to have the opportunity to learn about becoming a community leader as a volunteer. These youth work directly with our horses to prepare them for our therapeutic horseback riding lessons. In addition to the grooming, saddling, and feeding of the horses, these participants also have target lessons on responsibility, obedience, tolerance, and compassion. Several of the Youth Volunteer Leadership Program graduates have become regular volunteers and eventually are able to help in the arena with the riders.
In 2012, a new program was developed to offer unmounted horsemanship lessons for children and young adults alike. These equine-facilitated lessons are one-on-one with an instructor and the horse. While working with a therapy horse, participants learn responsibility, connection, compassion, and confidence.
During Rainbow Riders’ 10th year anniversary in 2015, an open-sided covered arena was constructed to facilitate lessons. It was celebrated and looked at as a symbol of the growth and sustainability of the program that has been established.
Rainbow Riders continues to grow due to the faithful support of our funders, community supporters, and volunteers. Without these, we would not be able to provide the services that we are able to.