History & Founders

History & Founders

The program was first established in 1998 as the Equest Therapeutic Riding Center by co-founders Nick and Sarah Armentrout. For thirteen years, the program served the community with first-rate equine-assisted activities and therapies to hundreds of children and adults with emotional, intellectual, and physical disabilities. From the staff to horses, facilities to the natural setting, Equest exemplified quality, innovation, and expertise.

Looking through the lens of sustainability for the future years, a new business model emerged, and in 2011, Carlisle Academy Integrative Equine Therapy & Sports, LLC was launched building upon the success of Equest, while expanding into new areas of training and leadership and providing inclusive traditional, adaptive, and para-equestrian education. Today Carlisle Academy continues to operate at Spring Creek Farm, with dedicated resources in the Equestrian Center, Therapy Center, and Retreat Center to meet a variety of charitable and educational needs as a valued community asset.


Nick and Sarah Armentrout lead and manage Carlisle Academy on their Spring Creek Farm in Lyman, Maine. The Armentrouts, who grew up together in Kennebunk, Maine, knew early on that they wanted their life’s work to combine their love of horses with helping others. Initially, the couple pursued their goals separately, by moving out west in their early 20s to study riding instruction and work with horses. Nick was a wrangler and a ranch hand in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, and also a riding instructor for riders with and without disabilities. Sarah, a PATH Intl. certified Advanced Level therapeutic riding instructor, trained at The National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy in California, and was a working student for Peggy Cummings’ Connected Riding in Idaho. While in Idaho, the couple worked together for three years in Hailey, instructing students and managing the Sagebrush Equine Training Center for the Handicapped (SETCH) in Idaho.

Although they had positive experiences out west, the Armentrouts wanted to move back home—and to the community that supported them during their youth—to build a farm of their own. Fortunately, besides equestrian skills, both had business experience as well, having worked in corporate roles including marketing, communication, and sales. “Our vision together was to host an integrated community, bringing the joy of horses to people’s lives and meeting the equine interests of those with special needs alongside their able-bodied peers.”

Today that vision is a reality with the myriad, life-enhancing programs that take place on the farm every day. 


Carlisle’s founders, Nick and Sarah Armentrout, offer organizational consulting to centers and professionals for program or project start-ups. Together they draw upon 25 years of experience in this field within both a non-profit and for-profit context. Please inquire with Nick Armentrout for more details at nick@carlisleacademymaine.com

For more information, contact the office at 207-985-0374, or email your inquiry to info@carlisleacademymaine.com.