SILVER2023

Special Methods in Learning Equine Skills, Inc.

aka SMILES   |   Darien, WI   |  smilestherapeuticriding.org

Mission

SMILES transcends traditional therapeutic methods by offering individuals with special needs the joy of participating in an equine assisted program which provides social, emotional, physical and personal rewards.

Ruling year info

1985

Executive Director

Ms Troy Moldenhauer

Main address

N2666 County Road K

Darien, WI 53114 USA

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EIN

39-1508173

NTEE code info

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Other Services (D60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

While it is even more important to maximize potential, and to advance self-sufficiency for individuals with disability, appropriate and enjoyable therapeutic methods (activities) for achieving those goals are difficult to find. Adaptive equipment, a modified facility, and specially trained, caring, compassionate and dedicated professionals are required. Traditional recreational activities are often not options for a client who is non-verbal, or severely impaired. Behavioral issues often limit socialization and team activities. However, the need to enhance a healthy life and improve one's life and one's living skills remains a constant and critical aspect of wellbeing for these individuals.
Horsemanship, as a therapeutic method, requires no pre-requisite skills and provides immediate success and reinforcement. Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies are easily adapted to address individualized functional goals, and to improve both lives and living skills.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Therapeutic Horsemanship

SMILES participants range in age from 4 to 81. Any interested individual with physical, cognitive, social and/or emotional disabilities is eligible. Parental and physician approval is required for participation. Scholarships are available to assist with program fees. Therapeutic horsemanship contributes positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well being of people with disabilities. Therapeutic Horsemanship includes both mounted and un-mounted activities. Therapeutic riding provides benefits in areas of sport, recreation, health and wellness. All equine assisted activities are designed to work toward the achievement of individualized functional goals relevant to the client's daily life activities. Benefits of equine assisted activities include: improved posture and balance, increased strength, normalized muscle tone, increased flexibility, improved eye-hand coordination, improved endurance, the pride of learning a new skill, independence, self-esteem and self-awareness. The rider also gains greater self-control which includes: social interaction and cooperation, improved attention span and listening skills, the chance to make new friends, both human and animal.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

PATH Int'l 2021

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities, Adults, Children and youth

Related Program

Therapeutic Horsemanship

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of clients served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities, Adults, Children and youth

Related Program

Therapeutic Horsemanship

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Hours of volunteer service

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth, People with disabilities

Related Program

Therapeutic Horsemanship

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Hours of programing delivered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities, People with diseases and illnesses, Adults, Adolescents, Children

Related Program

Therapeutic Horsemanship

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Client success will be unique and individualized, but will include benefits and improvements in physical, cognitive, social, and emotional functioning. SMILES classes address unique individual goals, as identified by the client, their family, caregivers, therapists, teachers and physicians. Every class is uniquely structured to address the client's personal goals.

Physical improvements will include balance, core strength, muscle tone improvement, increased flexibility, increased endurance and improved posture which in turn can improve breathing, digestion, mobility and independence.

Emotional benefits include: increased empathy, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Social skills include improved communication, turn taking, sportsmanship and a positive change in impulse control and patience.

Cognitive goals such as color recognition, alphabet and numbers, left/right directionality, safety awareness and multiple step directions, are also commonly addressed. Speech and communication skills are also improved and enhanced.

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Each session of Therapeutic Horsemanship is nine weeks long, each class is 45 minutes long, and is taught in a group setting of no more than 6 riders. Curriculum development is based on client's individual goals, and the generalized benefits of Therapeutic Horsemanship. Curriculum is progressive, teaching beginner and intermediate riding skills. A new skill is taught each week, while reviewing and incorporating the previous week's skill. Classes begin with a muscle warm up (which partners with the new skill to be taught), presentation of the new skill, an activity to utilize the skill and/or a game, and a cool down. Each Instructor adapts the lesson plan to meet the specific and unique needs/goals of their clients.

• SMILES is accredited as a Premier Center by PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) International, assuring clients of the highest standards in the industry.

• Classes are offered six days per week, mornings and evenings. School programs are hosted in the afternoons.

• Each client is provided the necessary number of volunteers to make their experience possible. Very often, this ratio is 3:1.

• The entire facility, doors, parking lot, mounting blocks, restrooms, tack and saddle are all accessible and adapted as needed.

• Clients who have limited financial resources have access to the SMILES Scholarship Fund to make their EAAT experience possible.

• A SureHands Lift System was installed in March 2015 to assist those individuals with the most severe physical limitations to be able to mount their horse safely, and with dignity.

• All who inquire are encouraged to participate in the SMILES program, regardless of the severity of their disability, or the level of their ability. Unmounted activities are available for those who are precluded from riding for physical reasons

SMILES (Special Methods in Learning Equine Skills) transcends traditional therapeutic methods by offering individuals with special needs the joy of participating in an equine assisted program which provides social, emotional, physical, and personal rewards. The well documented benefits of Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies have been made available to individuals with disabilities in Northern IL and Southern WI, by SMILES, for more than three decades now. SMILES is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is a Premier Accredited Center with PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship), meeting their highest standards for safety, evaluation, facilities, equipment, and record keeping. SMILES requires that therapeutic riding instructors are certified through PATH International, and recertification with PATH requires continuing education that is monitored by PATH.
The SMILES tradition of serving special need riders began in 1985 with a vision, four borrowed horses, four borrowed saddles, and 12 volunteers. Today's program boasts 22 horses, 40 saddles, and a volunteer force of 400 individuals. Initially, classes were held only once per week at a private residence, but in an effort to turn away no one, and to accommodate all types of needs, a facility larger than a private residence was required. The purchase of land and plans for a new facility began in 1990. With the addition of geothermal climate control in the indoor arena, year round services began in 2004. As facilities have grown, our programs have also grown to now include Recreational Rides for schools and the HEARTS (un-mounted activities) program. The horse, and its power to heal, remains central in all of these activities and therapies and their positive outcomes.
Results of therapeutic riding methods are evident after sessions as short as six weeks. (SMILES provides sessions that are nine weeks in length.) The physical experience of riding a horse stimulates the natural human walking gait, encouraging ambulation, muscular strength and flexibility. The diaphragm is strengthened during riding, and thus encourages and improves speech capacity. Core strengthening and improvement in balance and posture are physical benefits of Therapeutic Riding. Within the rider's personal experience, equine bonding provides a relationship of unconditional acceptance for individuals who often experience social exclusion and isolation. The horse is also highly motivating for individuals who face challenges and struggles which seem insurmountable. Therapeutic Riding is a 'total person' therapeutic method. Additional areas of positive outcomes include: increased self-esteem, improved communication, increased self-confidence, and an opportunity for appropriate socialization. Lesson plans during a nine-week session of Therapeutic Riding are designed to address the unique goals of each client.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to identify actionable feedback

Financials

Special Methods in Learning Equine Skills, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Special Methods in Learning Equine Skills, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 12/01/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Mark Hanson


Board co-chair

Mr. Thomas (Bill) Koch

Leslie Warnecke

K&B Accounting

Christine Gensler

Dennis Markley

Judy Atkinson

Cassie Kriefall

Liana Wiegel

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable