General Policies


Application Process

Potential participants are required to have a completed Participant Application with includes a Professional Referral Form.  Applications can be filled out online through our website. Once all necessary forms are complete we may book an onsite assessment to better determine the participant's needs and goals. Priority will be given to applicants with a medical diagnosis and/or social-emotional need as determined by a professional.

Once entered into programming, the Online Participant Application will be required once a year or sooner if there has been any change in the participants medical condition or contact information throughout that time. If there is a new medical condition or physical impairment we will require an updated Professional Referral Form as well. It is the responsibility of the participant/guardian to inform Hope Haven's staff on any changes in medical conditions.

Rowan's Law requires every sport organization to make sure all participants including coaches and staff review both Hope Haven's Concussion Code of Conduct as well as Ontario's Concussion Resources on a yearly basis. These waivers are included in the Participant Application.

Payment Methods

Participants will be invoiced at the start of each season for the full amount. We accept payment by cash, credit card, e-transfer ( or cheque made payable to Hope Haven Therapeutic Riding Centre.
Dates may only be removed from the season invoice (2 dates maximum) prior to the season start for any conflicting pre-scheduled appointments or away dates.
Outstanding accounts must be paid in full prior to starting into the next season or you will be removed from the schedule. 

Season Withdrawals, Refunds and Credits

  • All season registration cancellations/withdrawals must be made in writing via email.
  • If a rider withdraws before the beginning of a season, they will be issued a refund.
  • If a rider withdraws without a medical cause once the season has started, no refund will be issued.
  • If a rider withdraws once the season has started due to medical reasons, a refund or account credit will be issued for the remaining sessions. A physician’s note is required.


We ask that you please give us 24 hours notice if you need to cancel your lesson. Please contact the office by phone 519-986-1247 as soon as you know you will need to cancel.

  • There are no refunds for cancelled sessions.
  • Hope Haven reserves the right to cancel your session if there are conditions that may be hazardous to everyone's safety such as storms, excessive heat, high winds, etc. You will be issued an account credit or refund in this event. We do not offer credits or refunds for sick days.
  • In the event that we are unable to do a mounted lesson (unsafe or in appropriate conditions) an unmounted lesson will be offered. If that is refused there will not be a credit or refund offered.
  • Participants must be on time for their session in order to keep our schedule running smoothly. Please note your expected time of arrival on your session confirmation.
  • If a participant cancels more than 4x within a season, Hope Haven has the right to remove that session time from that participant for the following season and place them back onto the waiting list. 



Concussions: Prevention and Management

Hope Haven follows the policy and procedures as set by the Ontario Equestrian Concussion Guidelines. We also require a confirmation on a yearly basis (included in the Participant and Volunteer Applications) as determined by Rowan's Law, that all Hope Haven participants, coaches and staff have reviewed the following:

  1. Concussion Awareness Resources as provided by the Government of Ontario
  2. Hope Haven's Concussion Code of Conduct for Participants & Parents/Guardians OR
  3. Hope Haven's Concussion Code of Conduct for Coaches, Trainers and Staff

Bodily Contact Policy

Due to the inherent nature of being around horses and especially if mounted, there will be times necessary for our staff and volunteers to have hands on the participant for reasons of safety or increased therapeutic gains.

When mounting and dismounting, most participants will have hands on help by our volunteers and staff. There are occasions where small individuals may need to be lifted onto or off of the horse. During a mounted session there may be hands on for safety with balance, correcting of posture, helping to reposition, etc. During the session if there is a concern for rider safety an emergency dismount may be performed where the volunteers and staff are trained to pull the rider to ground as safely as possible.

If there are behavioural concerns during any type of session, a participant will be removed from the immediate area of the horse by the volunteers or staff for safety reasons of all of the participants in the area. This may involve lifting the participant if need be.

General Safety Rules and Guidelines

  • Children must be supervised at all times.  
  • Please do not go into the barn or paddocks to visit the horses without permission and supervision.
  • Our horses and volunteers should be treated kindly – they work hard for all of us.
  • No photographs may be taken unless a rider has signed a photo release form.
  • Parents, caregivers, and visitors are asked to stay outside of the cross-tie and lesson area and remain in the designated viewing area, unless they are asked to enter by the instructor.
  • Interaction with riders should be avoided while the instructor is giving lessons.  This allows the rider to focus on the direction of the instructor.
  • Smoking is prohibited anywhere on Hope Haven property.

We do everything possible to ensure the safety of the riders, volunteers, staff and horses. We are dependent on our volunteers to run our classes safely.  In the event there are insufficient volunteers for any given class, the following will occur:

  • Parents, caregivers, or friends may be asked to assist as sidewalkers if appropriate.
  • If suitable, the class will be offered in the form of unmounted equestrian activities.  Riders will not ride if adequate help is not available. 

Late Pick Ups:

  • Families will be charged a $10 late fee for each 15 minutes past the end time of the program.
  • We ask for prompt pick ups in order to ensure the safety of each participant as program facilitators need to move on with their own schedules.
  • If an unforeseen incident arises, please call the office immediately to inform of the late arrival.



Horse Welfare: Our herd welfare is top priority at Hope Haven. We reserve the right to discontinue a lesson if the rider is showing signs of aggression or mistreatment to a horse. We also have mounted rider weight restrictions that are strictly abided by and are unique to each horse. Most of our herd have a maximum weight of 180lbs, with only a couple who are able to take a bit more. Unmounted horsemanship lessons will be offered if a participant exceeds the weight capacities of our available horses.

Volunteer & Staff screening: The Volunteer Coordinator interviews all volunteers and the Executive Director interviews new staff, conducting reference checks at all times. All must undergo a vulnerable sector check and sign a declaration of confidentiality. Staff must be minimum 16 years of age, and must participate in a training program twice per year. All instructors must be equestrian instructor certified and complete a first aid & CPR course.

Harassment: We are committed to providing a work environment in which all workers are treated with respect and dignity.

Conflict of Interest: The Hope Haven By-laws contain a comprehensive section on conflict of interest that ensures all Directors & their families do not benefit financially from their participation at Hope Haven.

Complaints: Received verbally or in writing by the Executive Director or any Board member if preferred by the complainant. The Board reviews complaints and appropriate steps are taken to rectify the situation.

Health & Safety: Hope Haven has a Board approved Risk Management Plan for the prevention of abuse and injuries to clients, their families, staff and volunteers while at the Centre. It is based on the Risk Management Standards of CanTRA.


545747 Sideroad 4A, RR #2
Markdale, ON N0C 1H0

(t) 519-986-1247


Located on Sideroad 4a between
7th Line and 9th Line.

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Benoit Dube - Executive Director

Kim Reain - Development Officer

Robyn Allen - Program Manager & Physiotherapist

Michelle Lemire - Volunteer Coordinator

Emma Houser - Program Administrator & Instructor (PATH Int. CTRI, EC Instructor of Beginners)

Danielle Rose - Equine Manager & Instructor (PATH Int. CTRI, EC Competition Coach)

Gillian MacNeill - Instructor (CanTRA CTRII, PATH Int. CTRI)

Shannon Speer - Recreational Therapist & Equine Assisted Personal Development Coach

Gretel Stanish - Instructor (Path Int. CTRI, EAPDC)