The Ride to Fly Therapeutic Riding Center is a non-profit all-volunteer organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding and its associated learning experiences to children and adults with physical, emotional and learning disabilities in a safe, nurturing environment.  It is located in Rancho Palos Verdes (at 50 Narcissa Dr, in a gated community) and has been serving the South Bay area since 1994.

Gail Grove is a former dental hygienist who began volunteering for Ride to Fly in 1997 because her husband was a volunteer there, and she often accompanied him to the horse barn and to board meetings.  She joined the board in 2000, and 2½ years ago succeeded her husband as the Executive Director.

Marlin More was a school librarian with the Los Angeles Unified School District until retiring in 2011.  She began volunteering for Ride to Fly in 1996 because of her interest in helping people with health challenges and being with horses.  Now she schedules lessons for Ride to Fly clients, no more than 1 or 2 clients with each instructor in a session.  All new clients are initially assessed and screened for suitability for the program, because there are a few who would not be able to participate successfully.


They showed a DVD illustrating the experiences of children with disabilities, some of them with difficulty walking, who are developing new confidence and self-esteem from learning to ride a horse.  They are assisted in mounting as needed.  Riding simulates the natural motion of walking which some of them have not experienced before, and it improves their balance, muscle tone and limberness.  They improve emotionally as well as physically, using the horse as a therapeutic tool.

Instructors are volunteers and must be committed and passionate about the program.  They receive formal training, online classes and testing, followed by 3 days of showing their own riding skills.  The program takes one year to complete, but Ride to Fly pays for their certification fee in return for a commitment of at least one year to the program.

Marlin described the experiences of a 4-year-old autistic boy who was very hesitant to interact with a horse or people, but after only 4 lessons is now interacting much better.  He has progressed so well that his mother was crying to see him so happy with his new achievements.


Fees are based on the family’s or organization’s ability to pay.  Ride to Fly relies on donations and grants for scholarships and some operational costs.  Prospective clients’ family members can fill out an application online at, and interested volunteer instructors can also apply to join on the website (they don’t need to be horse experts).  There are 7-8 active volunteers now, and visitors are welcome but need to contact Ride to Fly for times to watch and instructions for getting through the community gate.