MACH 1 (“Move A Child Higher”) began operations at the Flintridge Riding Club in La Canada Flintridge in 1996 . It was founded by Joy Rittenhouse, a long time Pasadena resident, who, after having polio as a child and inspired by American dressage champion, Lendon Gray, found healing through riding, showing and caring for horses. Joy said, “Porter said it best when he wrote, ‘He who has seen the tree-tops bend before the wind, or a horse move, knows all there is to be known about dancing.’ Ever rider should have a chance to dance, especially those with special needs.”
Joy was soon joined by Christiane (Cric) Dupuis, a highly experienced horse woman and barn manager from Switzerland, who became the Director of Operations.
MACH 1 is accredited at the “premier” level by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.). This accreditation meets rigorous industry and national standards and guarantees that MACH 1 provides excellence in Equine Assisted Services.
With an acre of land lease from the City of Pasadena, MACH 1 built a therapeutic horsemanship center and became part of the Pasadena Equestrian Center located in the Hahamongna Watershed Park. This park contains numerous trails, running north into the San Gabriel Mountains, and south towards the Rose Bowl, for walking, biking and horseback riding. MACH 1’s facilities are located within view of JPL/NASA’s buildings in the Arroyo Seco, and are an important part of the greater San Gabriel community.
Between the 1950s and 1960s a handful of pioneers explored the use of horseback riding to assist people with all types of disabilities, in particular at that time were those affected by the polio epidemic. The idea took hold, especially when the inspirational Danish rider, Lis Hartel caused a sensation by winning Silver medals for dressage in both the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, despite having no muscle function in her lower legs caused by polio.
Throughout most of history, horses have played a significant role in shaping peoples’ lives. The concept of using horses for therapy purposes has been around since 2000 BC when the ancient Greeks and Romans recognized that horses could be valuable in maintaining and improving health and well-being.