Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic riding is a discipline of equine-assisted services for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional, and behavioral well-being of people with a wide range of disabilities. The movement of a horse stimulates the body and works the muscles of the rider in a manner similar to the human stride. This repetitive motion cannot be duplicated by machines or in physical therapy. Careful matching of horse and rider is done to maximize the benefit of this movement.

Riders participate in weekly group lessons lead by a certified therapeutic riding instructor. Volunteers serve as “leaders” and “side walkers” to provide physical and emotional support.

The benefits of riding include the following:

  • Strengthening and toning muscles
  • Improving balance and flexibility
  • Enhancing head control and eye/hand coordination
  • Strengthening communication skills (speaking and listening)
  • Improving concentration, patience, and self-esteem
  • Increasing compassion and a sense of belonging

A disability does not have to limit a person from riding horses. In addition to the therapeutic benefits, horseback riding also provides recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors.

Therapeutic riding has proved to be beneficial for the following:

Neurological Disorders:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Spina Bifida
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Epilepsy
  • Tourette syndrome

Orthopedic Disabilities:

  • Amputation
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Scoliosis

Developmental Disabilities:

  • Autism
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Learning Disabilities
  • ADD
  • Down Syndrome
  • Asperger’s

Acquired Disabilities:

  • Cancer
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • CVA/Stroke

Sensory Issues:

  • Sensory Integration Disorders
  • Visual Impairments (Blindness)
  • Hearing Impairments (Deafness)
  • Autism

Mental Health Issues (Social-Emotional Disorders):

  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Abuse
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Youth at risk
  • Anxiety Disorder

For more information about Therapeutic Riding, please call 805-364-5206 or email Kristen, [email protected].

Photography by Emily Hart-Roberts

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