Equestrian Connection:A perfect introduction to the world of horses. Designed for children 5+. Starting June 3.

Our Story

Summit Equestrian Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is a place where people of all abilities can experience the joy of Equine Assisted Services.

At Summit Equestrian we pride ourselves in thinking outside the box to help people discover the best in themselves. Our facilitators and horse professionals are united by our desire to help others and by our passion for providing excellent service.

We strive to be the best we can be so that we can give you our best. We are a PATH Intl. Member Center, and are working to become a PATH Premier Accredited Center. This will allow Summit Equestrian to provide the best services in the region and to ensure that each client receives top-notch care. 

Our History

Allison Wheaton understood the power horses have to help people, leading her to what became her life’s work: Equine Assisted Services.  Allison founded Summit Equestrian Center in 2010, which aimed to enable people of ALL ages and backgrounds to discover the best version of themselves through interaction with horses.

In her words, Allison tells us her journey.

“My sister and I were horse crazy from early on. We only had 2 Barbies and their legs had been broken off when we tried to get them to ride our model horses. We played for hours constructing elaborate estates and caring for our horses. When I was in elementary school, we moved to a small town in North Carolina with neighbors that allowed me to learn to care for and ride real horses.

To this day River Road memories are some of my favorites. I cleaned barns and took care of animals when people were out of town, putting “equine biproduct removal specialist” on my resumes (which cued potential employers in on both my work ethic and sense of humor).

I was away from horses through college and several years after. I went to Florida after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill to continue my aviation training, then taught people to fly float planes for a couple years. From there I moved to Seattle and flew for a seaplane airline, flying people to resort towns and lodges in the area and along the inside of Vancouver Island area. It was a really cool job, but I found myself looking down searching for horse farms. A fellow pilot encouraged me to check out volunteer opportunities at a local therapeutic riding program. I walked in to see people and horses working together to help people and knew what I wanted to do when I “grew up”.

Soon after I met my boyfriend and then moved to the Fort Wayne area (I know, boys right??) I started volunteering with a local therapeutic riding program and was hooked. I worked different jobs in town and studied toward my therapeutic riding instructor certification through PATH. Then taught for the program a couple summers before venturing out on my own with Summit Equestrian in 2010.

I would not have been able to imagine how much I have learned and grown on the adventure leading this program. The families that have come to the barn and shared their lives with me have taught me so much about humility and the joy that comes in service to others. The horses I have had the opportunity to work with have each brought gifts and lessons to share.

We started out providing therapeutic riding, beginner riding and horse boarding. My students were the ones that introduced me to the emotional health side of the industry, requesting to work with the horses in other capacities beyond riding. The programs we now provide really ring true to me and help share what I know horses have brought to my life.

I’m grateful for all the opportunities to share our horses with the community. I know spending time with horses has developed my perspective and I’m glad to be able to facilitate that experience for people.” – Allison

Allison died tragically on Sunday, November 26, 2023, in a sudden and heartbreaking small aircraft crash in Michigan. She was accompanied by her beloved husband, Randy, and their cherished dogs, Bernadette and Jack.

Allison embodied acceptance, empathy, compassion, and kindness to everyone she met. We miss Allison and her infectious smile every day.

Our Future

Quite simply, future chapters of the Summit Equestrian Center’s story will be written in the lives of the people it serves.