Applications now available!

Summer leadership Institute (SLI) is a special summer volunteering program geared toward highly motivated and mature high school student volunteers who would like to learn more about horses and working with kids with special needs.

Call For More Information

Overview: Program Dates and Structure

Important Information and Dates for 2017:

Applications are due by 4:00pm on Friday, April 28, 2017 in our office located at 8840 Southside Ave. Elk Grove 95624. Please deliver your application in person to our office. Note that this is a competitive program and early applications will have first choice of interview times.
Interviews will be scheduled when we receive their application. There will be an individual interview and based upon the results of that, applicants will be scheduled for a second, interactive group interview.
Program runs in two cohorts: choose either June 5 – August 11 or June 19 – September 2
Mandatory full-group meetings will be held All Mondays 9am – 4pm. One scheduled absence is allowed. Shifts are available Monday thru Friday between 8am and 8pm, and Saturdays 9am – 4pm.
You will complete approximately 10-15 hours of volunteering per week. Days and times available will vary. Please inquire.

Program Basics

Program Basics

Entering Sophomores thru Seniors at any high school, including homeschool
Preference is given to applicants 16 and older but younger applicants may be considered based on maturity level
Selected by competitive application/interview process
Must commit to serving at least 100 hours during your 10-11 week cohort. Preference given to applicants willing to commit to continuing service beyond the summer.
Receive special training, mentoring from staff, exclusive apparel, field trips and extra privileges
Get a certificate and a letter of recommendation suitable for job or college applications
Create a personal project that you can keep in your personal portfolio
Make new friends from all over Elk Grove and Sacramento
Have a great time this summer while helping out a very special program
Change your LIFE

Presentations, Trainings and Special Guests

Presentations and Special Guests

TBD – Past presentations have included:

Strengthsfinder assessments
Personal safety, teen dating violence prevention
Personal finance management
Public Speaking
American Sign Language
Customer Service Skills
Advances in stem cell therapies for people with disabilities
Inspirational chat and poetry reading with one of our students about the Baclofen Pump that manages her Cerebral Palsy symptoms
Team-building workshops
Horse handling – from beginning to advanced
Horse “psychology” – getting into the mind of the horse
Equine-Facilitated Mental Health team-building workshop
Field trip to Sacramento Zoo – including presentations from employees in the Education Department about career opportunities, hands-on animal demonstrations and a special tour of the inside of the giraffe barn!
Overnight camping trip at the barn, with screening of Temple Grandin movie, horsey chores, talent show and a campfire
Overnight campout at our ranch in Herald with campfire, stories, musical instruments and a scavenger hunt

Personal Projects


Past projects have included:

Building a table with activities for siblings of riders
Creating a basketball camp for disabled kids – including fundraising for it by running a car wash
Writing, illustrating and publishing a children’s book about Project RIDE
Building a table for the sibling area with books and toys
Running a fundraising horse show and raising $1,000 for Project RIDE
Researching and writing a handbook about the most common disabilities we see in our program
Building a giant cutout horse for us to use at community events
Photographing all our horses and creating a photobook
Fundraising to buy two iPads for us to use in our program with kids who cannot communicate verbally
Designing and collecting materials for a game we can play on horseback
Landscaping an area on our grounds

Notable Quotes from Former Summer Leaders

The students have taught me to be more patient. They’ve also taught me how to be more caring … and accepting of people in general. ~Sylvia Bauer

They have taught me that nothing in life should be taken for granted, even simple things like walking or speaking. All of them help me remember that an everyday activity for me could be a major achievement for someone else. ~Katie Martinez

The students here have really reminded me that I can continue to overcome my disability, just as they do every time they get on a horse. ~Ashleigh Flores-Simmons

I never expected I could bond so well with the kids, other volunteers and the horses. ~Kenna Marcus

I’ve seen courage. A rider finally riding a horse, or trotting with ease. I’ve seen progress. A rider’s first time saying “walk on”.
I’ve seen freedom. ~Courtney Crossman

Why did you sign up for this program?

The opportunity to work with kids, animals and to learn leadership skills that will help me in the future. ~Sylvia

When I grow up I would love to be a vet. This is also something I love doing (helping others out) ~Kenna

I love that it’s an opportunity to grow as an individual through helping others! ~Courtney

I would really like to gain more experience working with special needs children, as they aften attend the theater productions at my school ~ Katie

I have a life-long passion for horses and this allows me to help others through that. ~Ashleigh

Our Duties at Project RIDE

Leading horses in lessons
Cleaning horse stalls
Tacking up horses
Hand-grazing horses
Arriving early to feed horses and clean stalls
Preparing arena, setting up obstacle courses and lesson materials
More sweeping
Helping at fundraisers
Grooming Horses
Attending team meetings
Attending special presentations
Cleaning helmets
Observing veterinarian and farrier visits
Preparing a project
Filling out timesheets
Taking pictures
Making friends
Writing journals
Feeding horses again
Doing laundry
Interacting with kids
Having FUN!!!