Our Story

The genesis of Great Oak starts with the story of a boy, Alan Corey IV. Alan enjoyed adaptive riding on Long Island, New York. More than 20 years ago, while visiting his father in Aiken, he asked if there was a similar program available. When the answer was “No,” he questioned, “Why not?” That is when Specialized Therapeutic and Recreational Riding (STAR Riding) was born. Today under the protective branches of a Great Oak, that dream has been carried forward for the past 5 years by a dedicated group of board members, Volunteers, Community Supporters, and a Barn Team of passionate individuals and reliable horses under the professional affiliation of PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship). The future holds so many possibilities for unbridled success. Great Oak continues to provide equine-assisted activities that promote the physical, emotional, and psychological health of individuals with disabilities under the guidance and commitment to our fundamental essence or vision.

Our Essence

Our programs change lives and foster unbridled personal growth, independence, and confidence for our students. We share our knowledge to empower those of all ages with disabilities through learning and engagement for lifelong impact.

Knowledge + Respect + Impact

Our advantage is our knowledge and experience. We leverage our assets in a state-of-the-art facility that is supported by generous contributions from many of our local patrons and students. In the past 5 years, we have served over 800 unique individuals through creative programming, dedicated volunteers, certified instructors, and our fantastic herd of award-winning GO Ponies. Great Oak now manages a facility that allows for transformative growth through equine-assisted activities in all seasons.

We believe that riders aged 4 years and older with emotional, cognitive, and physical challenges will find that equine interaction may improve their condition. Prior to programming, all potential participants must complete a screening session with Great Oak PATH certified staff. As we grow in our community and beyond, we look forward to the new adventures and journeys that our students will go on with us, and we know we cannot do it alone. It can take up to three volunteers and an instructor for each individual session. We provide thorough training for volunteers assisting with therapeutic riding lessons, barn management, office administrative tasks, fundraising efforts, or community outreach.

Great Oak is located on a picturesque 40-acre farm five minutes from downtown Aiken, South Carolina. Aiken is among the foremost equestrian communities not only in the Southeast but also in the nation. It seems imperative that Aiken should be home to one of the PATH certified riding programs. We share our expertise to empower individuals with special needs and their families. We aim to see our students discover a new relationship with the horses through thoughtful programs that guide and nurture the riders.

Simply put, we change lives. Help us build the future at Great Oak.