Blue Rocking Pony

- Home Page -

- What's New -

- Calendar -

- About CATRA -

- Donate -

- Contact Us -


Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association Celebrates 30 Years!!!!

CATRA Then and Now

CATRA began in the Fall of 1985 with two horses and 4 riders. Its Mission was to provide quality therapeutic riding lessons for people with disabilities. There was a tremendous amount of planning, training, and preparation that preceded those first rides. Thirty years later, there are 30 horses in the program, and 150 riders per week.

In the early 1980s, Shirley was a “roving riding instructor.” She would travel to various locations to teach folks to ride. Our next-door neighbors, Sam and Barbara Dupler, had twin daughters (Kelly and Candy), age 4 then, who wanted to learn to ride their old back-yard pony Thunder. Candy, who has cerebral palsy, was a very willing beginner. Shirley had many years of experience in teaching children to ride, but needed extra information in order to adapt her techniques to Candy’s needs. The rest of the CATRA story evolved from there. We credit Candy Dupler as the reason CATRA was created.

Providence has guided each and every moment of CATRA. The decision to operate as a 100% volunteer-managed facility has set in motion three decades of the most wonderful people in the world helping to make CATRA happen. There is no task the volunteers and volunteens will not attempt.

CATRA riders and volunteers have come from seven surrounding counties (Dauphin, Lebanon, Lancaster, Cumberland, Berks, Schuylkill, and Perry), with one family even coming from State College for a season. Riders come to CATRA with a physician’s prescription allowing them to ride a horse. Once a rider is registered with the program, Shirley, as head instructor, determines the riding program appropriate for their needs.

CATRA supporters from throughout the world have been most gracious with their contributions of time, talents, and resources. Amazing things happen when people recognize a need or concern and come forward to help. We look forward to exciting times ahead. Our faith directs us to Galations 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Our heartfelt thanks and love to all who are part of CATRA.

Ben & Shirley

Candy with mom Barb and dog Vita

First CATRA rider Candy with Mom-Barb & dog Vita

Candy with Mike

Candy volunteers and visits with Mike


30 years of service


First 25 Years



Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association, INC.
PO Box 339, Grantville, PA 17028
717-469-7517, catra@catra.net