Therapeutic Horseback Riding is widely recognized as a valuable method of improving the mental, physical and emotional health of people with special needs. Physicians, therapists and teachers are among the many professionals who refer their patients and students to therapeutic riding programs.
Horseback riding is fun! . . . and it offers the rider with a disability a unique opportunity to participate in an active, rewarding and motivating recreational sport. For individuals with impaired mobility, horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves their bodies in a manner similar to a human walking gait. The rider must continuously contract and relax muscles, improving balance, strength and flexibility. Also, research shows that students who participate in therapeutic riding can experience physical, emotional and mental rewards.
Who participates in Therapeutic Horseback Riding?
Our clients come to us with a wide variety of needs and goals. Some focus on increasing strength and muscle-tone, while others are working toward improving their ability to follow directions and maintain attention. Therapeutic Horseback Riding is also an excellent option for clients dealing with emotional disorders since research shows that activities on and around the horse increase the individual's sense of well-being.
Examples of disabilities that respond well to the Therapeutic Horseback Riding experience include (but are not limited to):
Learning Disabilities Cerebral Palsy
Autism Spectrum Disorders ADHD
Anxiety Disorders Developmental Delays
Down Syndrome Depression
Of course, horseback riding skills are always incorporated into therapeutic sessions. Many of our clients become independent riders and even move on to more advanced riding skills!
What are some benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding?
Physical - Improved balance, coordination, and motor planning; strengthened muscles, decreased spasticity, improved circulation and reflexes; increased range of motion.
Psychological - Improved self-confidence, self-discipline and risk-taking abilities; increased interest in one's own life; development of patience, emotional control and responsibility; sense of well-being and normality.
Social - Increased experiences, enjoyment and interaction with peers; development of love and respect for animals; increased understanding of social cues; development of creative problem solving skills.
Educational - Improved visual/spatial perception, reinforcement of remedial reading and math, increased sequencing and patterning skills, improved eye/hand coordination