Rider’s Academy

Rider’s Academy will return Summer of 2019!

Too often our kiddos feel disconnected, bored, and overwhelmed. Rider’s Academy is a summer program designed to get kids away from their screens, out in nature, and connected with horses. 

The benefits of equine interactive psychotherapy are endless! In addition to skill building, development of empathy, and increased focused attention, members of the Rider’s Academy will experience the serotonin-boosting benefits of fresh air and a good ride. 

Rider's Academy — Dr. Surina Mazzola

From the 9am to 1pm, Rider’s Academy students will have the chance to ride horses in the gorgeous Las Trampas Regional Park, as well as learn how to properly care for the horses. They’ll muck stalls, feed horses, refill water, and perform other duties as they build relationships with the horses and each other.

After a lunch break, they’ll spend the remainder of the afternoon (2–5:30pm) at the pool swimming, playing games, and participating in various structured activities such as underwater obstacle courses.

Rider’s Academy contains a group therapy component as well. The structure of the program itself provides a safe space for the children to interact and practice appropriate behaviors and social skills with real time interventions. In addition, Dr. Surina Mazzola joins the group twice a week to facilitate and guide group therapy using the horse boy method. The horse boy method has been scientifically proven to promote communication, the child’s ability to learn, decrease anxiety, and improve relationship dynamics.

The camp runs for five weeks over the summer. Each week, we introduce a new group of kiddos (ranging in age between 6 and 17 years old) to the environment. All attendees are required to bring a helmet, long pants, and heeled boots (1–2 inches or higher) to the stables. A swimsuit, towel, and sunscreen are required for afternoons at the pool.

Sign up today to send your kiddo to the Rider’s Academy next summer.

— Rider’s Academy Facilitators —


Dr. Surina Mazzola


Dr. Surina Mazzola

Dr. Mazzola is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than 15 years of experience working with people of all ages. She created Blackhawk Family Development Center to meet the needs of families the way a larger company may be able to, while still making it based on the fibers of each and every individual that walks through the door.


Brie Berry

Brie Berry