Operation Mount Up!
Operation Mount Up! is Dream Catchers’ dedicated program for veterans and active-duty military personnel, offering horseback riding, horsemanship, mental health services, and individual and group ground-based activities.
Our Horsemanship and Riding Program covers the basics of working with horses in and out of the arena, from grooming and tacking to staying balanced and in control in the saddle. No prior experience or preparation is needed! Each session of Horsemanship and Riding consists of 8 weekly lessons lasting 1½- 2 hours each. Participants are assigned to a group based on their skills and needs.
Our Mental Health Services include group and individual sessions of psychotherapy incorporating interactions with horses, facilitated by a licensed mental health professional. We have a number of veterans among our staff and volunteers, and their knowledge and experiences enable us to provide more compassionate psychotherapy with equines to active-duty military personnel and veterans. Mental health services are scheduled according to the participant’s needs.
Operation Mount Up! classes and services are offered at no cost to participants, thanks to grants and generous donations to the Valor Fund.
Who is eligible?
Any veteran or active-duty military service member. Dream Catchers requires that each participant complete an application and provide proof of service (either a DD-214 or a DoD-issued identification). Additional forms may be required to access funding from the Wounded Warriors Project.
Horses are experts at teamwork and relationships – they understand loyalty, honesty, and cooperation. Horses command respect because of their large physical presence and power, but they respond best to kind, fair, and consistent treatment. They yield to teamwork not because of force, but due to cooperation based on trust. Horses are nonjudgmental listeners that encourage calm, steady, and patient participation and foster confidence, independence, and strength.
Because horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a motion similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities show improvement in flexibility, muscle tone, balance, posture, and coordination. For those with mental or emotional disabilities, the unique relationship formed with a horse can lead to increased confidence, patience, and self-esteem.
Dream Catchers at the Cori Sikich Therapeutic Riding Center is situated on 22 acres in Toano, VA—an easy drive from Richmond, the Peninsula, and Hampton Roads. This area is home to some of our nation’s most important military installations and thousands of active duty military and veterans.
Our farm includes a large indoor arena and fenced outdoor arena for mounted and unmounted lessons; an equestrian round pen; a 20-stall barn; pastures; and administration building. All our facilities are ADA compliant.
PATH Intl. Certified personnel facilitate all mounted and unmounted Equine Assisted Services
Group and individual Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy provided by licensed mental health professionals and equine specialists in mental health and learning
Partnerships include Wounded Warriors Project; Dream Catchers facilitates retreats for warriors and families referred through WWP
Dream Catchers is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center
Touch and Go! Volunteer Days
Service members and veterans are invited to help us with a variety of projects around our facility. These activities may include:
- Grooming our herd
- Cleaning in and around our barn
- Maintaining the sensory trails along the perimeter of our property
- Building obstacles for the obstacle course used during mounted horsemanship and riding programs
Touch and Go! days typically end with a cookout for all who attend.
Interested? Email our Volunteer Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org