Therapeutic riding is a wonderful way for those with disabilities to enjoy themselves and for a short time forget their health issues, both physical and/or mental. Many kids that are able to ride horses will tell you that during that time they feel happy and any pain is tolerated much better. Those with mental issues will feel rejuvenated and can deal with their problems better. The interaction between the horses and the walk or run exhilarates.
On the website Equest it states, “The relationship between disabled riders and Equest horses is the catalyst to miracles in handicapped lives. Equest's program is about children and adults who reach beyond the confines of their disabilities because of the intervention of these special animals.”
On the PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) website it states:
”Therapeutic riding uses equine-assisted activities for the purpose of contributing positively to cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of people with disabilities. Therapeutic riding provides benefits in the areas of therapy, education sport and recreation & leisure. Throughout the world, there are thousands of individuals with special needs who experience the rewarding benefits of horseback riding. A disability does not have to limit a person from riding horses. In fact, experiencing the motion of a horse can be very therapeutic. Because horseback riding rhythmically moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength. In addition to the therapeutic benefits, horseback riding also provides recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors.”
All instructors who ride with those adults and children with have experience with working with all types of disabilities. As stated in the above statements, they are able to use the horses to assist the rider in their therapy. The American Equestrian website explains how riding is beneficial: ”Because horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength.”
Some of the disabilities that riding can be therapeutic for are:
- Hearing impairments
- Spina Bifada
- Muscular dystrophy
- Cerebral Palsy
- many many more!