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Beyond Riding


Although CATRA’s primary mission is to offer therapeutic riding to the residents of the Capital Region,
the organization also offers many services well beyond its weekly riding program.

Alternative Breaks

Each year CATRA hosts ‘Alternative Break’ students from various colleges and universities in the United States. Students typically spend 4 or 5 days volunteering at CATRA while learning more about the role and benefits of therapeutic riding for individuals dealing with a wide variety of special needs.

While at CATRA, students can expect to assist riders with therapeutic riding lessons. Level of assistance depends upon knowledge and ability and can include grooming and tacking of the horses as well as leading and side-walking during a lesson.

Students also support the daily chores and tasks of the facility. This includes maintenance of the stalls and paddocks, feeding and caring for the horses and other animals, re-stocking hay stations, cleaning water troughs, and general maintenance needs. Each day typically begins at 9 am and lasts until 5 or 6 that evening. Additionally, one evening students can expect to participate in an experiential workshop focused on the benefits of therapeutic riding. Students are also welcomed to participate in any community clinics or workshops that are being offered during the week.

CATRA does not have dormitory facilities. Student groups are required to arrange for their own housing needs. Often local churches are supportive. Beyond a refrigerator and microwave, CATRA does not have food services. Students will typically bring a packed lunch or travel to local eateries.
What To Bring

CATRA is a working horse farm and all work takes place outdoors or within the facility’s barns. Students will get dirty. Weather conditions must be considered when packing for CATRA. Students should bring clothing appropriate to the situation. This includes sturdy shoes (sneakers are ok). During late fall or winter, layers of clothing (thermal underwear is appropriate), hats, gloves, and other items which maintain warmth and offer protection are necessary.

Without individuals and groups who are willing to volunteer time and assistance, this program could not exist – THANK YOU!

HighHOPES Miniature
Horse Programs

What is equine-assisted learning?

Equine-assisted learning (EAL) is an experiential learning approach that promotes the development of life skills for educational, professional and personal goals through equine-assisted activities. At CATRA, our therapy and miniature horses assist children and adults in processing key learning skills.

Volunteer Robin Helm, M.Ed., developed the HighHOPES Equine-Assisted Learning programs for children ages 7 to 11.


Join miniature horse, Rummi, on a magical quest to find the true meaning of friendship.

HighHOPES Challenge
Learn skills to help miniature horse, Rodeo, handle yucky feelings and say “neigh” to trouble & peer pressure.
Holiday Adventure

Help miniature horse, Sarajule in her search of “happy” during the holiday season (& beyond).

Mini Horse JOURNIES Course
Journey with miniature horse, Glory, on her search for acceptance from others despite her unique behaviors of ADHD.
Fees and Donations

High Hopes Miniature Horse Programs cost $10 per child and $20 per family.

And additional donations are greatly appreciated. Visit CATRA’s wish list here. Donations can be made through PayPal or credit card while registering on-line, or by cash or checks at sessions.

After completing the online registration, you will receive a liability waiver form which must be completed prior to participation.

Please email for more information or to inquire about scheduling a customized session for a group of five to ten children.

We look forward to see you in a HighHOPES Miniature Horse program soon.

These are the upcoming HighHOPES sessions:

September 7, 2024: Mini Horse CHALLENGE

October 5, 2024: Mini Horse JOURNIES

November 2, 2024: Mini Horse UnicornQUEST

December 7, 2024: Mini Horse Holiday Adventure

There are limited slots available per session.

Mini-horses are provided by the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association (CATRA).

Children experience hands-on learning in horse handling, problem solving, healthy communication, and volunteer service. Interactive parent/caregiver discussions are incorporated into each program.

Miniature Horse Lessons

Lessons are on Wednesdays from 6-7PM starting in June. With your lessons you will learn a variety of skills including…

  • Care and Grooming

  • Use of halter and lead

  • Leading Skills

  • Safety


Lessons take place at CATRA’s facility located at 168 Station Road, Grantville, PA 17028.

Who Can Get Lessons

CATRA’s Miniature Horse Lessons are open to all children, teens, and adults. Students under 13 years old must be accompanied by an adult throughout the lesson.

Items needed

Dress for the weather. If it’s cold, wear multiple layers. Long pants or shorts are fine.

Students will come in contact with dust, dirt, animal dander, and other things common to a farm – you will get dirty. If you have allergies, please be sure to bring your medications.

Closed-toe shoes are required. Boots, hard-soled shoes, sneakers are all fine. No open-toed shoes or sandals.

The Show

….And then, the Show!

A few days after the lessons end, students get to perform with their mini’s in a Mini Horse Show. Everybody gets ribbons!

The cost for each lesson is $15 per person.


Mini-Horse Camp

Little Creatures, Little Teachers

Participants 4 – 14 years of age are invited to join our 3-day experiential intensive Mini Lovers Day Camp.  The workshop will take place at CATRA, 168 Station Road, Grantville, PA on Tuesday, June 11, Wednesday, June 12, and Thursday, June 13. 

  • The morning session will begin promptly at 9 am and last until Noon. 
  • The afternoon session will begin promptly at 1 pm and last until 4 pm.
What Participants Learn

Participants will learn and improve upon care and grooming skills, horsemanship, equipment care, general barn management, and other important equine-related skills. Students will also have an opportunity to learn about and interact with CATRA’s small animals. The workshop is open to all regardless of current skill level.

What To Wear
Absolutely no open-toed shoes. Dress appropriately. You may get dirty. You will also come into contact with hay, dust, and dander. We have a wide variety of animals. If you have allergies, be certain to bring allergy medication

Workshop cost is $120.00.
Space is limited. Registration will close when full.

Miniature Horse Extravaganza


The Miniature Horse Extravaganza is a team of Miniature Horses that have been trained by CATRA volunteers under the guidance of CATRA co-founder, Ben Nolt.

Regional Shows
All the minis are also used as therapy animals on the farm. The Miniature Horse Extravaganza has performed each year at the PA Farm Show since 2013 and at PA Ag Days in Penn State since 2012.

Some of CATRA’s miniature horses have been lucky enough to visit local seniors, brighten their days, and leave them with wonderful memories.

Team Members
Interested in learning more about becoming a team member on the Miniature Horse Extravaganza?

Paws n’ Read

Noah’s Nook

Area students – regardless of reading level – are invited to read to CATRA dogs, cats, horses, and other farm animals. The opportunity to read to animals in a safe, non-judgmental environment has been shown to strengthen reading skills of children and teens.

A variety of books from different reading levels are available – or you may bring your own. Each session lasts no more than 30 minutes and is supervised by CATRA’s Paws n’ Read Coordinator.


Days and times vary

Please complete our brief registration form and our Paws n’ Read Coordinator will be in touch to schedule a day and time for your reader.

Please sign waiver and then register.

Memorial Bowl-A-Thon

Annual Event


CATRA’s Largest Annual Fundraiser

Motorcycle Ride

Miles For Smiles

Our Mission

CATRA provides quality equine and animal-assisted therapeutic programs to the people of the Capital area.

Our vision is to be a center of excellence where equines and other animals enrich the lives of people of all abilities to enhance physical, spiritual, intellectual, mental, emotional, and social well-being through a holistic approach.