Inspiring children and adults with special needs through equine assisted activities and therapies
The mission of Riders of Hope is to inspire children and adults with special needs through equine assisted activities and therapies.
About Riders of Hope
Riders of Hope is a therapeutic riding program in Bosnia and Herzegovina with non-profit status and administrative support in the U.S. In a country where equine sports and therapy is still in its early stages of development, we are dedicated to using the horse to mentally and physically transform and inspire children and adults. We are committed to creating an environment where equality, respect, integrity, and opportunity are valued. By providing a variety of equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) for both children and adults with special needs we improve their quality of life and inspire them to reach their fullest potential. We are proud to be the first official Therapeutic Riding Center in Bosnia and Herzegovina with PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors, which assures that safety and leading edge EAAT practices are our top priority!
Our Vision and Core Values
The vision of Riders of Hope is to create a strong, positive and stable environment that will foster growth and personal development in the lives of its participants and staff. Integrity: Striving to do what is right for our clients, for our community and for our profession. Ethics, fairness, honesty and integrity are the cornerstones of our practice. Passion: Passion for what we do and the drive to excel in every aspect of our activities leads us in our work. Quality: Excellence is seen both in the services we provide and in the results we attain. Respect: Respect for the dignity and worth of all, regardless of religion, culture, nationality, or ‘ability’. Professionalism: Taking pride in our work and aspiring to be the best we can be; continuously learning and improving our performance. Possibilities: Believing that nothing is impossible.
The program started as an experimental project of a few Bosnian riders under the wing of Emin Muratovic, a Bosnian professor of sports and riding instructor, and a few committed volunteers (including Senada Pekaric-Muratovic and Maja Hadziomerovic) at the Foundation Land of Peace and Friendship outside of Sarajevo. Despite many challenges, their desire to share the joy and benefits of horseback riding led them to initiate an amateur riding program with a handful of grateful children and adults with special needs. Before long, the program grew from serving one woman with a shrapnel wound to serving more than 50 children and adults per week, and offered a small crack in the facade of impossibility. This program was the first initiative of its kind in Bosnia, and was very well received by the community in Sarajevo and Sarajevo's special needs schools, which are currently undeserved and often desperate for activities, education and guidance for their students. After seeing the initial success of this amateur riding program, and especially the impact of equine assisted activities on the program's students, the founders of Riders of Hope determined that a horseback riding program focused specifically on therapeutic riding and hippo-therapy for Bosnian adults and children in need could have a major impact on the emotional, mental and physical health of these individuals in the Sarajevo community. It was clear that further education in the field would be a critical first step in this dream. Senada Pekaric-Muratovic found the courage to uproot her life in search of an environment that could provide her with additional training. She spent a number of years in the USA volunteering and training at Quest Therapeutic Services in Pennsylvania. Senada is recognized by PATH Intl. and the Horsemanship Safety Association as a certified therapeutic riding instructor. As a result of her active role in training children for Special Olympics at Quest, she is now a licensed coach for Equestrian Special Olympics (a skill we hope to, one day, leverage in establishing Bosnia's first Equestrian Paralympic Team). Today, Senada is the most highly qualified and trained individual in Bosnia for Therapeutic Riding, and we plan to pass on this knowledge to other young, dedicated volunteers and enthusiasts. When we started we had no expertise, no money, no land, no horses... all we had, was our experience of seeing the immense bond made between children with special needs and horses at the Foundation Land of Peace and Friendship. It was once said that we are insane people trying to do an impossible task. And insane people don't know what impossible means. So here we are... Riders of Hope galloping into a better future with the children of Bosnia… one step at a time.