Dream Catchers at the Cori Sikich Therapeutic Riding Center improves the quality of life for individuals with physical, emotional and developmental needs by providing evidence-based therapeutic riding, equine assisted activities and advancing effective practices through professional education and research.
Founded in 1993, Dream Catchers at the Cori Sikich Therapeutic Riding Center is a 501(C)(3) charitable organization that provides a wide range of equine assisted activities and therapies.
In 1993, two nurses from Cumberland Children’s Hospital opened a therapeutic riding center that became known as Dream Catchers. A retired Quarter Horse barrel-racing champion named Red Jet and a retired Thoroughbred steeplechaser named Voo carried children with special-needs children to small and large victories as they improved fine motor skills, self-esteem, self-worth and gained confidence as they mastered both simple and complex tasks like placing rings on poles and reining. By 1996, Dream Catchers provided 35-40 lessons each week. The hospital was sold, and Dream Catchers relocated to a leased facility in 2002.
In 2004, Susan and John Sikich gave Dream Catchers a permanent home on 22 beautiful acres held in trust by the Cori Sikich Foundation, in memorial to their daughter, Cori Sikich, an accomplished equestrian who lost her life to an eating disorder. The Sikich family knew what an incredible impact horses had on Cori’s life and found a way to honor her when they discovered Dream Catchers.
Dream Catchers and the amazing impact of therapeutic riding found its way into the hearts of Angie and Wade Johnson, MD. As a trustee for the Roy R. Charles Trust, Angie with her husband Wade decided Dream Catchers was worthy of significant support. In 2006, they directed the capital improvements resulting in the state-of-the-art facility as it stands today.
Dream Catchers now provides life-changing equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) to a large and diverse community of children and adults with special needs on the Virginia Peninsula from Richmond to Norfolk, the Middle Peninsula, and the Northern Neck. Dream Catchers serves an average of 80 to 100 participants each week; all services are provided by credentialed providers. EAAT services provided by Dream Catchers include: Therapeutic Riding, Therapeutic Horsemanship, Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) with a licensed mental health provider, and Speech Therapy with a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist. Participants range in age from 4 years to seniors in their 90’s with more than 150 distinct diagnoses recorded. The organization is accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) as a Premier Accredited Center.
Dream Catchers relies upon 250 active volunteers who receive rigorous training and who provide 20,000 volunteer hours annually. More than 800 participants were served during the last fiscal year. The organization is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, has an Advisory Board, and is staffed by 5 full-time/28 part-time employees (mostly barn crew and instructors), along with a herd of 13 horses and 2 miniature horses. Dream Catchers has a highly engaged and influential Board of Directors. Dream Catchers fundraising comprises between 72% and 75% of its gross annual operating revenue of $750,000+. Dream Catchers continually improves the methodology and evaluation of its services to develop the most positive, cost effective, efficient services and organizational structure possible. Dream Catchers provides therapeutic interventions to help develop healthier, more productive citizens creating a positive impact for our community today and in the future. For more information about our programs, click here.