Charla Shurtleff

Charla Shurtleff

Therapeutic Riding Instructor, COTA

Charla was introduced to equine assisted therapeutic activities when she was rehabilitated on horseback in Houston, Texas following an accident in 1984. Upon moving to St Louis in 1989, she became involved with TH as a volunteer. Not long after, Charla went on to start Exceptional Equestrians of the Missouri Valley (EEMV), a therapeutic horsemanship program in Franklin County, in 1990 on the family farm with her husband, Tim. She acted as Program Director for EEMV until 1996 and currently remains involved with EEMV as an advisory board member.

Charlas has been an NARHA Advanced Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor since 1991 and a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant since 2001. She has served as a board member for the national Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) to develop and implement certification, accreditation, and ADA standards for riding instructors and horsemanship establishments serving people with disabilities. In 1996, Charla attended the Paralympics in Georgia as a safety steward in the horsemanship venue. She has also been a presenter at regional and national NARHA conferences.

Charla earned a Master’s degree in Gerontology in 2008, and has assisted her husband, Tim, as a riding instructor and therapist in research projects through Washington University.  Their research focused on studying the effects of equine assisted therapy on children with Autism and Cerebral Palsy and of equine assisted activities on the elderly to reduce fall risk.

Charla has served TREE House as a volunteer for the past 28 years.  She also currently serves TREE House in the capacity of PATH Certified Riding Instructor and PATH Registered Therapist.