Community Association for Riding for the Disabled (CARD)

CARD's mission is "to improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities through quality therapeutic riding programs"

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Therapeutic riding was first introduced to Canada in 1968 by Mr. Joseph Bauer and Dr. Reginal Renaud.  In 1969, CARD was incorporated.  CARD relocated to the G. Ross Lord Park in 1979 with the enthusiastic support of Mel Lastman, then Mayor of North York.  The present facility consists of a large indoor heated arena, 19 stall barn, three paddocks, offices and a viewing lobby.  The CARD facility was specifically designed and built with therapeutic riding and accessibility in mind.  Some of CARD's accessibilities include a hydraulic mounting block, ceiling lift and washrooms.

Accolades and Accomplishments

Having been around for more than 40 years, we have seen many riders progress...some even to Paralympic levels.

CARD has a direct and postive impact on the lives of children and adults with disabilities.

Our Programs How We Do It

Our primary program is therapeutic riding for people with special needs. The secondary program is our huge volunteer component which supports the riding program


Therapeutic Riding for People with Special Needs

CARD provides therapeutic riding for over 150 people who have special needs.  This level of riding requires over 200 volunteers.  We are a year round operation, and we are located in G.Ross Lord Park, in North York

Funding and Program Partners

Our only consistent annual funder is the Ministry of Community and Social Services.  They provide us with approximately 7% of our annual budget.  We are fortunate enough to have many service clubs and organizations that support us on an annual basis

Program Impact

We are the only therapeutic riding program in Toronto that provides Hippo classes, as well as regular riding classes for people with special needs.  Having been around for over forty (40) years, we have seen hundreds of children and adults benefit greatly from this type of activity.

With 19 horses, the interaction between horse and rider has been proven beneficial in the areas of balance, sensory stimulation, cognitive and rehabilitative areas.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Healthy citizens help to create strong and thriving communities."

Equestrian activities promote self-esteem, coping skills, socialization and independence.  Opportunities are also available for riders to pursue riding as a sport.  Riders are also able to practice skills on horseback which transfer into everyday life skills, ie. number and letter recognition, motor sequencing, left/right discernment and spatial orientation.

Participant Vignette

Courtney talks about horses all the time.  She fantasizes riding her favorite horse at CARD and spends hours watching videos of her riding in class.  If her academic life were to involve horses, I am sure her concentration would improve and she would retain more.  She wants her career to involve horses.  Her week, of course, is climaxed by her weekly lesson at CARD, where she enjoys meeting with fellow riders, volunteers and staff, who accept her for whom she is. Courtney started riding on the recommendation of an occupational therapist who believed that the CARD program would be the therapy of choice.  Activities she tried prior to CARD often left her wondering why her body would not do what she wanted it to.

Courtney's balance, fine and gross motor skills, coordination and special awareness have improved greatly following neurosurgery and the Magic of CARD.  When Courtney first started at CARD she did not have the strength in her legs or balance to sit in the saddle without the help of 3 volunteers.  She did not even have the strength in her hands to hold the reins.  Now, after four years, she has developed the dexterity to hold the reins correctly and steer and stop her horse independently.  Courtney's balance has improved to the point that she can walk and trot without volunteer assistance.  The carry over into every day life includes being able to do up her own shoes, having the confidence to put her hand up in class when she knows the answer and talking to the other children about the horse she rides each week.  Courtney recognizes these improvements in herself, building confidence and self-esteem. She is asking when might she compete.  Courtney appreciates CARD's Magical Connection and shows her gratitude by volunteering.  She says, with a big smile on her face, that maybe one day she could be a sidewalker, leader or even an instructor!  CARD has improved Courtney's life by boosting her self-esteem, giving her the love of a special animal and the confidence to pursue her dreams and succeed.

What You Can Do

Activities a donation will support

Financial assistance will help us to continue to provide the service.  It costs approximately $6000 annually per horse.  It will also help us to maintain our aging building, which requires updating to electrical, and plumbing issues, and to  continue to address accessibility standards to better serve our clients with adult change tables, ramps, and accessible doorways.

Donation impact

With financial support we can continue to  make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.  When a wheelchair is empty, and there are several people in the cannot tell who belongs to the chair.  Everyone is the same!


Penny Smith
Executive Director
Charitable Number: 118870138RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 559,886