Why Therapeutic Horse Riding?
The 3 dimensional movement of the horse facilitates a multitude of postural corrections, which improve trunk control, balance and co-ordination. Many of our riders have not had varied movement opportunities to learn dynamic postural control. They are challenged to stretch and strengthen muscle groups that they would use in walking, sitting and many other daily activities. Normalised muscle tone, balance and co-ordination, improved fitness and cardiovascular function are just some of the benefits that have been observed as a result of teaching horse riding skills.
Cognitive and Educational Function
The rhythmic movement of the horse may assists our riders with improved attention and task performance. The horse riding lessons offer numerous opportunities to grade activities and to improve decision-making and motor planning. Improved posture and movement as well as interaction with the horse, instructor and helpers also assists in the development of speech and communication skills.
To be able to ride on a horse means that the individual is doing something many of his/her peers would love to do. The horse is by nature non-judgmental and due to the height of the horse an opportunity is presented for the rider to be “looked up at” which may not happen in any other context, particularly for those who are wheelchair bound. The horse may also provide access to places that would previously have been inaccessible
Children develop good sensory integration by actively engaging in activities, especially when using the vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile senses. In addition to the sensory input received from being on the horse is the sensory stimulation received from participating in activities relating to the care of the horse and from being outdoors in the natural environment.
It is essential to take note of the fact that our goals focus on specific skills associated with learning to ride. In fact, as our riders become more skilled the goals associated with what they want to achieve become their own goals not those of the riding instructor!