Therapeutic Riding

A Sport and Recreational Therapy

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Cliff Ingalls Jr. on Mac Winter 2017

PATH International explains that people with physical, mental, and psychological impairments may use equine assisted activities — adapted as needed — as a recreation and leisure experience. The emphasis is on an enjoyable and relaxing experience that provides additional therapeutic benefits in the areas of socialization, posture, mobility, and an overall improved quality of life. Individuals may participate in horse-related activities to their maximum ability in an atmosphere of support, structure, and socialization for the primary purpose of intrinsic enjoyment of the activity.

Therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs. Therapeutic riding provides benefits in the areas of health, 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.

IMG_4237In 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.

At HGR, professional staff and volunteers work closely with riders to ensure safe riding sessions. A new rider is generally assisted by two side walkers who walk alongside the horse to assist the rider, as well as a horse leader. Riding classes are taught by a PATH Intl. Certified Instructor who has a strong equine background, as well as an understanding of various disabilities.