Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center is proud to announce our new Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) program, a unique and groundbreaking model, used around the country as a dynamic, powerful tool in mental health therapy. EFP specifically targets people with mental and emotional health issues, stemming from traumatic life events, chemical imbalances, cognitive disorders and a wide range of other mental and emotional health problems.

Through Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy, the focus is not horsemanship or horseback riding, but rather a safe place for the client and therapist to engage in activities with a horse or horses, and use the horse(s) to help process feelings, thoughts and reactions. The horse serves as a giant “biofeedback machine” so that therapists can easily see the client’s motives, reactions and abilities. Horses are uniquely suited to this kind of therapy, because they are intuitive and will react to behavior patterns and cues that people might miss, allowing the therapist and patient to interact on a deeper level and address issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Studies show that Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy has been helpful for patients in the following areas: assertiveness, emotional awareness, empathy, stress tolerance, flexibility, impulse control, problem-solving skills, self-actualization, independence, self-regard, social responsibility, interpersonal relationships, grief/loss, cognitive disability, ADD/ADHD, autism, personality disorders, anxiety/depression, mood disorders, PTSD, and emotional/physical trauma.

Little Bit is partnering with local mental health therapists to provide EFP services at our facility. These therapists will work hand in hand with a PATH certified Equine Specialist from the Little Bit staff. 

Melissa Cope, MSW, LICSW is a mental health therapist who specializes in work with children. Melissa obtained her bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology and her masters in social work, both from West Virginia University.  Her studies were focused on children and families with disabilities, though mostly with autism.  She has always had a passion for horses and was determined to incorporate their healing power into her therapy sessions, so she created a program for her masters level research project and witnessed the benefits first hand.  For this reason (and many others!), Melissa is excited to combine her passions together and work as a team with Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. To find out more of becoming a patient of Melissa’s, please contact Little Bit at

Little Bit partners with Meghan Wilkins Melanson of PEOPLEInc, who works with teen and adult clients. She works primarily with individuals facing anxiety, depression, chronic or terminal illness, and loss. If you are interested in Meghan’s services with Little Bit you can contact her at


We are very excited about this new programming at Little Bit! If you are interested in finding out more about EFP services at Little Bit or becoming a part of this new program, please contact Jessica McKenzie at