Here at Hilltop Horizons, we love to see our riders grow and succeed through our program - but how exactly is this tracked when each rider has vastly unique goals?
This process begins during the rider's very visit to Hilltop Horizons. Each student undergoes a preliminary evaluation that allows our instructor to gauge their strengths and areas of difficulty. This allows us to determine the type of horse, tack, and support needed to make therapeutic riding lessons successful for this individual. The evaluation also serves as a great time to start forming goals for the rider. We discuss with the rider and their family areas where they would like to improve in their life. The instructor then takes this information and transforms it into goal-oriented horsemanship tasks. For example, if one of the rider's goals is to improve their communication skills, one of the first things we would work on would be verbally and non-verbally telling their horse to "walk on" and "woah".
After each therapeutic riding lesson, the instructor will write progress notes on that session. These will include if the objective of the lesson was met, strengths and weaknesses of the lesson, and ideas for how to move forward in future lessons. Continuing with the example from above, a rider who was working on communication and had mastered cuing their horse to "walk on" and "woah", would then move to a goal such as communicating to their volunteers where they want to steer their horse in the arena. In this way, the rider is building on their communication and moving to interpersonal interactions.
The overall purpose of the evaluation and progress notes is to create a long term goal and work towards it through a series of short term goals. The goals and needs of the rider are constantly re-evaluated and changed as needed in order to create the most cultivating and successful experience for each rider.