New Breed of Therapy

The Naples Therapeutic Riding Center and The Naples Players have teamed up to present a unique program to serve our community. So unique that it is the only one of its kind in the United States!

Expressive Theater Therapy with Horses is a free program offered to those who are eager to: reduce and manage stress, deal with grief and loss, ease symptoms of trauma, depression, or anxiety, create healthier relationships and improve communications, and increase self-awareness and trust.

Anyone who has endured trauma, or who has struggled with mental health and emotional well-being should register for this class. Families or caregivers are welcome!

Four week sessions are held September through May on Thursdays from 5:45-7:00 pm for 6 participants and are age-appropriate for people 10 years and older, teens, or adults.

Naples Therapeutic Riding Center (NTRC) Executive Director, Missy Lamont, works closely with the team to make these lifechanging classes happen: David McKenzie, Program Director; Lea Haven, Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning); Dianne Durante, Ed. S (Education Specialist) and LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist),and Craig Price, Director of Community Education and Wellness at TNP.

“TNP partners with over 20 nonprofits in Southwest Florida in order to deliver our mission and serve the community,” said Bryce Alexander, CEO and Executive Artistic Director at The Naples Players, “this is by far the most unique effort, and one of the most rewarding for the individuals we serve.”

Horses and improv are not only fun, but they make participants feel comfortable as a group and with oneself. The experience allows participants to play, share, and heal with the help of a professional therapist.

TNP’s Craig Price, says, “horses are incredibly intuitive and understand where you are emotionally. Horses can even feel a heartbeat from four feet away! I always knew that improv made me feel better and saw it help other people in the community – I was blown away by how effective and calming these horses are. We had one participant walk in with severe anxiety and the horse immediately calmed her down.”

When horses interact with humans, they tend to synchronize to our heartbeats which is why they can sense slight adjustments in our moods.

Craig says that, “the improv aspect of the classes acts as an ice breaker. We play improv games such as “dance diamond,” where whoever is at the head of the diamond is in control and everyone else has to copy. So, if the horse is at the lead, everyone imitates the horse.”

The participants also groom and talk with the calming, nonjudgmental horses during the classes. Craig adds that, “Dianne Durante and Lea Haven help the horses and humans connect. Dianne comes in with tools to help everyone process their emotions that they’re feeling – whether it’s something they’ve come in with or something that the therapy brings out. Lea supports everyone so they know how to be safe with the horses.”

To learn more about the program and take part, please contact David McKenzie at or 239.596.2988

TNP Wellness Director, Craig Price

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