If you talk to a horse lover, they'll tell you that there's something special about horses that fills their heart in a way that nothing else can. While that's good and true, there is much more about horses that makes them excellent candidates for improving the challenges of our riders.
The three dimensional movement of the horse replicates the gait of the human walk. This amazing trait allows individuals to strengthen and maintain core and leg muscles that are necessary for walking. For those who are unable to utilize walking to strengthen those muscles, this is a way to exercise the core muscles and can even serve as a stepping stone to walking. The smooth rhythmic movement of the horse can also provide passive stretching of tight muscles. This can effectively improve range of motion, as well as overall mobility. Many body systems are also stimulated by the horse's movement, including the circulatory and vestibular systems. This allows individuals to improve their awareness of their position in space, balance, and overall cardiac health.
Therapeutic riding involves a multitude of activities that improve the cognitive well being of our riders. Motor planning activities are found in nearly every riding lesson in some form or another. Here, riders are able to practice their ability to incorporate various inputs and respond appropriately. Lessons also give riders the opportunity to utilize and improve their visual, auditory, and kinesthetic processing abilities as they learn the art of riding.
Therapeutic riding fosters a relationship between horse and human that necessitates a high level of respect and communication from both parties. Creating this strong bond with such a powerful animal builds self esteem and confidence in our riders. They also learn how to face challenges and overcome them with the support of their horse, volunteers, and instructor. Creating these healthy relationships often sets a precedent of creating more healthy relationships in their everyday lives.
Therapeutic riding is much more than just a sport. It is a chance for a brighter future. The multi-faceted horse provides a world of possibilities for anyone working towards an improved well being. The benefits of therapeutic riding are endless.