Urban Riding Academy adds new program;

“SWKS Therapeutic Equine Program”

Urban Riding Academy is a horse riding academy which offers riding for anyone at any level and they are adding a new program dedicated to persons with special needs, “SW KS Therapeutic Equine Program.”

Owner Sheila Urban said the academy turned out to be part of her life’s work, even if she didn’t know it until it happened. “I didn’t know it at the time, but I think it’s just evolved and this is what we’re doing,” she said.

 Any skill of riding can be accommodated. If you are just starting out, want an hour to yourself, have always wanted to know what it is like on top of a beautiful horse, or just relax with a horse, Urban Riding Academy is the place for you. The academy can aid you in starting with a horse, correcting problems you may be experiencing, or if you are wanting to improve your riding and horsemanship abilities.

Urban Riding Academy provides a safe and friendly atmosphere for people to learn and discover the physical, spiritual and emotional benefits of riding horses.

They will continue to offer the same services to their non-disabled clients as they always have. These services include an indoor riding arena, an outdoor arena, two outdoor round pens, and plenty of open space to learn how to ride. Stalls and runs are available to rent, as well.

Sheila is especially excited about the new therapeutic program and the benefits which the riders receive from their time with the horses.

Over the years, Sheila has watched countless kids of all abilities light up when they are helped up on a horse and the excitement of their accomplishment when they are helped down.

Some of the special needs which can benefit from equine therapy include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, autism, ADHD, hearing impaired and Ashburgers disease. Sheila also hopes to develop a geriatric program.

Others who can benefit from equine therapy include those with social difficulties and victims of domestic violence.

One of the first clients of SW KS Therapeutic Equine Program suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and Sheila said that after seeing the benefits which this patient received, she was determined to expand the program. Sheila pointed out that the therapy is great wheelchair-bound patients because horse riding uses so many muscles which might not be normally used.

Running such a program is not a one-on-one process. Sheila has a base of about 20 volunteers who are present whenever disabled riders are present. Each rider requires 3 walkers for therapy sessions.  

Some of the skills which clients will develop include social skills, body language and communication. She points out that horses primarily read our body language and expressed anger will turn a horse away. She said that even simple grooming leaves the client feeling good about themselves and the horse can read your attitude through the pressure of the brush.

Sheila also points out that ‘not just any horse’ can be used in therapy. Before being placed in the program, a horse is given up to 2 years training and many just won’t make the program.

Sheila’s vision for the program is “to empower people through equine assisted activities” and the mission of the program is “to provide an environment where individuals achieve their highest potential.”


“In April of 2008, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  I had lost some of the use of my right side along with my speech.  They informed me at the hospital that I needed physical therapy for three months to stay active to keep from regressing even more.  I had an illness that will be with more for the rest of my life.  Not to mention there was a chance that I would become depressed because of it.  I might need to talk to someone or find a way to deal with it.

In the process of trying to keep my mind from heading that direction I did a lot of online scratching.  One thing that interested me the most was a woman that loved horses.  She had to slow down a tad, but it was helping her in so many ways.  It was also suggested as a therapy to try.  I thought about it and said that I wanted to try that too.

In April of 2011, a friend introduced me to Sheila Urban, she took me to meet her horses and talked for a bit on how she would like to start.  We started with getting to know the horse and went from there.

I have to say it is the highlight of my week.  I look forward to my lesson.  My attitude has changed with it.  If I am having a bad day it seems to get better when I get there and start working with the horse.  Just brushing their hair takes me to a calmer place.  I can't wait to get there and learn something new or work on what I need help with.  My depression has gone to a lower level.  I feel that it has helped with it and I lost some weight with it.”

SW KS Therapeutic Equine Program offers both mental and physical equine therapeutic activities for children and adults of the Dodge City area. This type of therapy often provides results when traditional therapy does not.

The new equine therapy programs include:

Equine Assisted Therapy: Activities such as riding or interaction with the horses, ,which are subject to discretion of therapist to help individuals with a number of issues.

Equine Activities  Program: Learning through activities utilizing horses such as games, listening skills and riding. This provides stimulus and directions to individuals needing assistance with social and mental skills.

Therapeutic Riding Program: This program focuses on physical activities both on and off a horse to aid the individual with physical disabilities.

Leadership & Team Building Workshops: Activities will include leadership, team productivity building and communication for your team or group focusing their skills and strengths.

We have a Path Certified Equine Specialist (Vickie Padilla) ,licensed Professional Counselors, Occupational and Speech Therapist, and of course, Gucci Summer and Zippie, just to name a few of the loving horses that are looking forward to doing their job of helping and healing kids and adults improve their lives through equine therapy.

Sheila hopes to make this program available to those with disabilities, regardless of ability to pay for the services. They are in the process of a Scholarship Drive. The scholarship drive is for businesses or individuals to sponsor a rider for a six-week period at the Academy.  The sponsored rider would receive a one-hour a week session with an equine friend specifically matched with them to complement their personality and therapeutic needs. During this six week period the rider/child/student will learn to interact with their horse, learn basic riding skills if applicable, feel self-independence and accomplishment, and experience the joys our equine friends bring to them.

The cost to sponsor a rider/child/student for a 6 week session is $450.00. However, they will accept any amount at your discretion. SW KS Therapeutic Equine Program is a registered 501©(3) so all donations to the Urban Riding Academy are tax deductible. Just ask and they will be more than happy to provide a receipt for your charitable donation.

As a thank you for your sponsorship, you or your company will receive a photo with the sponsored rider and their equine friend.

Urban Riding Academy is located in the heart of cowboy country...a short 2.5 miles south of Dodge City, Kansas.  Just take South 2nd Ave. to the four way stop (by Maupin truck parts) where highways 56 and 283 meet.  Continue south two miles on highway 283 and make a left turn (east) on Primrose Road.  Half a mile in you will find our facility on the left side of the road with wagon wheels at the entrance.

Sheila concludes,”Just give me a call at 620.253.4761 to schedule a tour, a  meeting or even to set up therapy session. let me show you how these magnificent animals can help individuals achieve their highest potential.”

Urban Riding Academy, 11160 Primrose Road, Dodge City, Kansas, 67801, USA 

11160 Primrose Road

 Dodge City Kansas 67801 USA

Sheila Urban: 620-253-4761

Email address: sheilaurban@hotmail.com