Therapeutic riding uses equine movement and assisted activities to enhance
physical, emotional, social, cognitive, behavioral, sensory, educational, and other developmental skills. Unlike Hippotherapy, a licensed physical, occupational, or speech therapist is required.
Therapeutic riding provides many benefits such as:
- Client receives sensory input through the motion of the horse, which is variable, rhythmic, and repetitive
- Client is constantly readjusting body in response to the horse’s movement which promotes balance and core strength
- The horse’s gait closely emulates a human’s gait
- Walking includes muscle strength, coordination, and balance. Riding a horse allows the brain to practice correct walking movement patterns, giving muscles, vestibular system, and the brain an opportunity to experience the motion of walking, particularly someone who moves very little.
- The movement of the horse improves strength, agility, balance, posture, weight-bearing ability, improved circulation, respiration, and metabolism.
- Stimulates every movement system in the client’s body
- Equine temperature runs 4-5 degrees higher than human’s; therefore, the horse provides a warms that can help reduce spasticity and stretch muscles. The movement massages the muscles at the same time.
- Psychological benefits including enjoyment and excitement
- Confidence due to the fact that the client is sitting above people (may only see the world from a wheelchair) and the client is controlling a 1200 pound animal
- Improves cognition including sequencing, attention, concentration, memory, divided or alternating attention,
- Promotes social skills
- Improves hand-eye coordination and motor planning
- Improves sensory integration
- Improves spatial orientation and visuospatial skills
- Educational benefits such as counting, naming alphabet, reading, math skills, etc.