Special Strides is a 501 C (3) non-profit organization devoted to improving the lives of individuals with special needs. With a unique combination of therapy, horses, and the natural environment, individuals achieve goals appropriate for therapy, education, and recreation. Their vision of “Harvesting Hope, Breaking Boundaries and Realizing Potential” guides them every step of the way. Special Strides provides all individuals an opportunity to “improve their lives… one stride at a time”, regardless of financial status.

Founded in 1998, Special Strides fulfilled the dreams of Laurie Landy OTR/L. When Special Strides, Inc., opened its doors, Laurie was able to combine her passion as an occupational therapist, her love of the natural environment, and her knowledge of equine movement. As an Occupational Therapist in the school system, she was stymied by the limits of traditional classroom-based therapy. Laurie envisioned an environment where individuals could reach their therapy and recreational goals in a locale that supported all their needs: physical, emotional, sensory, and communication.

Special Strides is a specialized therapeutic facility offering programs and services including physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), speech therapy (ST), adaptive horseback riding, experiential education through Nature's Classroom and equine facilitated learning. Located on beautiful Congress Hill Farm in Monroe NJ, Special Strides is a place where children and adults are inspired to discover their strengths through engagement with horses, therapy, and other farm activities. Through this array of programs and services, Special Strides is a beacon of empowerment for the community of individuals with special needs.

In 2011, Special Strides achieved the coveted standing of a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) Premier Accredited Center.  Professionalism, education, empowerment, and support of their community are hallmarks of Special Strides.  They are considered a beacon in the community as, not only do their clients with special needs grow and prosper but their active volunteer program and Junior Committee of Young Leaders gain experiences that lead them to their future goals. 

Many of their clients have been in a traditional clinical setting for most of their lives; some have progressive degenerative diseases, require frequent hospitalizations or experience life threatening seizures. Utilizing the motion and e-motion of the horses, the talented therapy professionals and dedicated adaptive riding staff change lives every day. The use of the horse and the equine environment sets them apart from other therapy practices. To see participation in therapy and recreational endeavors in the natural environment of the farm with the assistance of their horses is to see pure joy spread across their clients' faces. It is this unique aspect that allows the therapists at Special Strides to make changes in quality-of-life issues such as walking, communicating, engaging in activities of daily living and participating in family life. Parents are proud to see their loved one eagerly participate and acquire skills like many of their typically developing peers. Unfortunately, most insurance companies deem this therapy a non-covered service and recreation is never covered. Special Strides’ Steven Werthan Memorial scholarship fund steps in to help those in need by relieving some of the financial burden incurred by these families so that joy can be harnessed and turned into success.

Special Strides is a place where individuals and families are greeted with a knowing smile and a gentle hand that tells them they will use all of their knowledge, professional expertise, savvy equine skills, and desire to share the natural environment every time their child enters the barn doors.  Their staff’s dedication to their core values: possibility, positivity, knowledge, empathy, respect, and teamwork permeates the air at all times.  No wonder their clients feel as though the team at Special Strides is a part of their family - not just a place for therapy or riding lessons. 

At Special Stride they never lose sight of their important mission: to provide all individuals with special needs the opportunity to “improve their lives… one stride at a time” regardless of their financial status; or our vision:  Harvesting Hope… Breaking Boundaries…Realizing Potential.

To learn more, please visit their website at specialstrides.com