About Us

Our Mission

PALS provides comprehensive individualized therapeutic equine programs designed by professionals to intentionally develop and restore functional skills, enhance well-being and improve quality of life.

Our Vision

By providing a caring, safe and challenging environment PALS will foster growth and individual achievement of all participants that will enable them to reach their highest potential.


What is People & Animal Learning Services (PALS)?

PALS is a nonprofit therapeutic riding center located in Bloomington, IN. We provide therapeutic horseback riding & unmounted equine activities to people with disabilities, veterans, and at-risk youth. The therapeutic power of the horse can offer many physical, emotional and social benefits for a diverse population. As a PATH Intl. Premier-Accredited center, all programs are designed to be individualized and safe.

Clinical therapy can be hard. At PALS, programs are engaging & FUN, allowing our participants to experience a number of positive benefits such as: increases in self-confidence, improvements in balance, and improved motor skills. Since its beginning in 2000, PALS has provided over 12,000 therapeutic program and service hours, various educational programs, and camp opportunities designed to improve the lives of hundreds of children, adults, and seniors in the South Central Indiana community ages three and up. As the only organization in south central Indiana to have received a Premiere Accreditation distinction from the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), and the only Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy program in Monroe County or the surrounding vicinity, PALS has been instrumental in providing the highest quality EAA/T for clients from 11 counties across the state.

Our History

Early on, PALS Executive Director Fern Goodman (Bonchek) had been exposed to the need within the Indiana community for recreational programs for individuals with disabilities. Growing up, Fern’s Mother, Barb, had spent several days a week providing riding lessons for individuals with disabilities within the community. Upon returning to her hometown of Bloomington, IN in 2000 several of Barb’s original riders had inquired about returning to riding, an opportunity Barb could no longer provide, and inspired Fern to explore the possibility of starting her own therapeutic riding program for individuals in the Indiana community. Having spent several years training and becoming a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Advanced Instructor while working with The Shea Center, one of the oldest therapeutic riding programs in the United States located in Orange County California, Fern felt confident in her abilities to bring the same high quality program and services to the local community, a unique opportunity not available in Bloomington or the surrounding vicinity for a growing population of individuals with disabilities and at-risk youth.


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Who Do We Serve?

PALS serves at-risk youth, veterans and individuals with a variety of disabilities, impairments, and conditions including, but not limited to:

  • ADHD
  • Amputations
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Downs Syndrome
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Post Polio
  • Spina Bifida
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Stroke
  • Visual Impairments
  • Speech Impairments
  • Learning Impairments



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