Help With Riding Lessons

Each adaptive rider can have up to 3 volunteers dedicated to their lesson - 2 sidewalkers and 1 horse leader. We try to match volunteers with specific riders so they can develop a trusting relationship. 

Our group lessons have up to 3 riders so you can see why we always need more lesson volunteers! 

Call one of our Volunteer Coordinators for more details.

  • Dianne Irwin - (217)502-4345 email: Irwin.Dianne@mhsil.com

Grounds & Paddock Care

Our pastures, paddocks, riding arena and barn are used daily, and when horses eat, they naturally, well, you get the idea. There's a lot of clean up for that. There is also keeping the barn clean and obstacle-free for our disabled riders, and making sure teaching aids are clean and ready to use. 

Call Dianne at (217)502-4345 for more information and how you can plug in. 

Hospitality Help

If you've got a hankering for hospitality, we can find a place for you in developing special events for Sanctuary Hill.

It takes a lot of dollars to care for our herds and provide safe and effective programs for our riders. So, if you're one of the fearless few who can ask for donations, our fundraising needs are year-round. Or if you have an amazing knack for event planning, we need you!

Please send a message to our Volunteer Coordinator and let us know how you'd like to help!

  • Dianne Irwin - (217)502-4345

Getting Social

Something everyone can do is to help us spread the word about Sanctuary Hill and our mission to help people with disabilities find hope and healing through encounters with horses.  You can "LIKE" us on Facebook, snap some pics for Instagram, and share our story with your friends, family and co-workers.



Fund Development

Like any non-profit, we always look for creative ways to raise funds to help our programs so we can serve more people and grow our capacity. If you have a knack for knocking on doors, give our Fundraising Committee a call. Jen Wessing - (217)761-4113



Neo at the final round of the first ever Annual FUNday Horse Show!

Most people can only imagine the stress and anxiety a child with a disability like Autism lives with each day. Not being understood. Being mocked or bullied. Not fitting in. Feeling  powerless. Unbearable frustration at the sensory overload.

I don’t have to imagine. I’m the mother of a remarkable 9-year old son diagnosed with Autism.

But our story is one of hope! Since we started coming to Bright Star [Sanctuary Hill], Nehemiah (“Neo”) had developed a real connection to the horses, and his entire disposition and behavior has improved dramatically. We wanted to try to move him away from overusing electronic devices which he loved, to something that would be healthier for him. He’s used the social skills the horses have taught him to help him connect to other people. He has more self-confidence and self-control. It’s been a huge blessing to integrate these successes into other therapies for Neo.

We didn’t start out as ‘horse people’, and I had a lot of trepidation about putting my little boy on the back of one of these 1,200-pound beasts, but the transformation we’ve seen is nothing short of a miracle! Coming here was the best decision we ever made for our son.

Neo loves his horse, Lola, and, his instructor, Will! Neither of them see him as his diagnosis – they see his ABILITIES and his POTENTIAL!  Everybody at Bright Star [now Sanctuary Hill] truly shows me they want to help people like my Neo become more capable and confident, and to realize his full potential, not to be defined by how the world limits that potential.

You can see that I’m one of many parents that has found hope and healing here:

“The therapy has helped my daughter focus and concentrate more and is even helping with her orthopedic issues by strengthening her muscles and stretching them,” said the mother of a grade-schooler with Autism, “Her therapy has helped in all aspects of her physical, emotional, and behavioral aspects. She is so much more confident!”

“My daughter has Cerebral Palsy and has always struggled with balance and walking because of weak hip joints and muscles. After just a few lessons her doctor commented on how her hips were aligned and we could see how much confidence she had now to walk independently!” 

I know how the staff, volunteers and Board of Directors go above and beyond to make sure the program is carefully managed and can continue serving out its mission to use their horses to help people with disabilities. We’ve tried so many therapies to help Neo, but this has been one that I’m seeing real results from, and it’s benefitting our WHOLE family. I also know that they try to keep the costs as reasonable as they can, and relies on connecting with people in the community to help make that happen through ongoing support.

Please know EVERY dollar counts here!

As a mom who’s witnessed the transformative power of this program firsthand, can I count on you to help more kids like Neo with your generous donation?

Mia Dawson

Parent, Autism Activist, Author of the “Adventures of Neo” children’s book series


Donate To Make A Difference

Rider-ship Donations


Sanctuary Hill believes in the healing power of horses and wants to offer the program to all who would benefit from it.  Our goal is to never turn a client away because of an inability to pay.  As a non-profit organization, we are only able to meet this goal through donations to our "rider"-ship fund.  Awards are based strictly on financial need. 

You can also purchase gift certificates for 1, 3 or 6 lessons by clicking here!

Help for the Herd


Our herd requires daily care regardless of our off seasons or the weather. Feeding, providing basic vet care and keeping the horse environment healthy and safe is costly - over $3,000 per month. Factor in maintenance of the pastures and paddocks, and you can see where expenses continue to add up.

Be Part of the Everyday Miracles!


General donations allow us to use funds where they are needed most to keep our organization running smoothly and serving the community.


"My daughter’s neuromuscular disease makes activities like walking, riding, and using her hands independently seem like an impossible challenge to overcome. She needed a horse as special as she is - one she could trust like a friend and speak to with her heart. When we came here, she met not one, but two extraordinary horses that showed her patience, gentleness, and unconditional support. I proudly watch her discover abilities she never knew she had.”

- Parent of child with progressive neuromuscular disease