Equine Assisted Activities
The benefits of riding for people with disabilities have been recognized for over three thousand years.
What disabilities are involved?
Physical disabilities ranging from Cerebral palsy through to accidental injury. Intellectual disabilities, mental illness, autism, developmental delay and emotional disturbances have all responded to riding therapy.
Individuals whose disability prevents them from weight bearing, have limited choice for non-weight bearing activities which also develop muscle tone and improved posture. Riding and swimming are the two primary available activities. Riding has the added advantage of the animal/people bonding component, in addition to producing a sense of independence and responsibility, when the students learn to care for the horse.
- Improvement in joint mobility, balance and coordination
- Relaxation of spasticity
- Increased muscle power
- Increased self-confidence through improved self-image
- Improved learning, concentration, spatial awareness
- Motivation to set and achieve goals
People with many types of disabilities of all ages have found benefits from therapeutic riding.
Certain conditions exist for which therapeutic riding is contraindicated. Medical guidance and approval is essential for the safety and protection of everyone involved.
With these exceptions, persons with a disability may safely and beneficially engage in a number of therapeutic equestrian activities such as riding, driving, vaulting and hippotherapy.
Hippotherapy is a medically prescribed procedure conducted by health care professionals. The goal is rehabilitation through the motion of the horse; riding skills are not taught in classical hippotherapy, but may become an ultimate goal. The hippotherapy team always include a therapeutic riding instructor and a specially trained horse.