Benefits of Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities are uniquely designed for people with cognitive, physical, emotional and social disabilities. Students of all ages learn horsemanship and basic horse care while receiving many benefits such as: improved balance, mobility, muscle tone, coordination and posture, enhanced independence and increased concentration and self-esteem. Therapeutic riding has proven to be a highly motivational and enriching therapeutic and educational modality for students to set aside their crutches, wheelchairs and disabilities as they settle into the saddle.

Physical

  • rhythm, timing
  • stimulation
  • sensory registration
  • sensory integration
  • movement exploration
  • awareness of body in space
  • motor control, fine and gross
  • postural alignment, dynamic and static
  • postural control
  • balance
  • coordination
  • endurance/fitness
  • normalization of muscle tone
  • oral motor control
  • respiratory control
  • visual/spatial orientation
  • dexterity
  • increased muscle strength

Spiritual

  • participation with nature
  • connection with animals/people
  • mindfulness

Emotional

  • motivation
  • ability to face challenges/risk-taking
  • improved self-esteem
  • decision-making skills or “making choices”
  • goal-setting
  • hopefulness
  • intuition
  • mood regulation
  • safety awareness
  • empowerment
  • sense of control

Cognitive

  • sequencing
  • executive functioning
  • judgment
  • problem-solving
  • memory development
  • patience
  • following multi-step directions
  • self-expression
  • task completion
  • insight
  • attention to task
  • decision making

Social

  • teamwork
  • care-giving
  • empathy
  • cooperation
  • leadership
  • independence
  • partnership
  • respect
  • vocational exploration
  • trust
  • interpersonal relationships

Educational

  • color recognition
  • shape recognition
  • verbalization
  • vocabulary expansion
  • spatial awareness
  • reading skills:
  • letter recognition
  • word recognition
  • basic sentences
  • math skills:
  • number recognition
  • add/subtract
  • multiplication
  • fractions
  • measurements

Some of the benefits we have observed for our clients:

The physical attributes and nature of the horse present an ideal opportunity to impact individuals with all levels of abilities and in all realms of growth and learning. A horse’s three-dimensional gait provides a movement unparalleled for therapeutic benefit to the rider with a physical disability. The movements stimulate the rider’s trunk and pelvis in a manner that closely resembles the normal gait of a human walk. This input produces specific physical changes in the rider and promotes normalization of tone, postural improvement, improvements in balance and increased strength.

The attraction of the horse and the opportunity to bond with this gentle giant also provides motivation and encouragement to riders with emotional and/or psychological disabilities. When students realize that a real relationship exists between them and their horse, quality programming can nurture the development of life skills like responsibility, honesty and respect.

Growth and achievement in one area is likely to affect growth and achievement in other areas. For example, a student who gains strength in his trunk muscles can expend less energy on maintaining his balance, thereby enabling him to turn his attention to taking a deep breath to speak clearly to his peers, focus totally on the problem at hand, or observe the world around him.

Participant needs and abilities are assessed before beginning the riding experience and on an ongoing basis, which allows the instructor to structure the lesson to promote the most successful outcome for each student.