Mentally, the stimulation of riding a horse increases motivation to learn. It has the ability to improve concentration while students hold the reins in the hands navigating the horse in the way they are directed by the instructors. There are multiple movements that have to take place at the same time; such as balancing on the saddle, holding the reins, listening to the instructors direction, and implementing that instruction.
Physically, the three dimensional motion of the horse provides the rider’s hip and back action that simulates natural walking. Overall body tone is improved and riding gives new freedom to individuals who utilize wheelchairs or other walking apparatuses. The horse stimulates all of the body’s functions as well as improves posture, balance, coordination, strength, relaxation, and joint mobility.
Emotionally, contact with the horse and horsemanship training provides a non-competitive setting for learning. New abilities, increased self-discipline, improved concentration all help to build confidence and self-esteem. Majority of students develop a bond with the programs horses which stimulates gentleness and caring demeanors.
Socially, therapeutic riding nurtures a positive self-image. Riders may experience independence and being part of a team. The rider learns new skills, gains new confidence, and participates in a sport.
Spiritually: Winston Churchill once said: “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” Therapeutic riding is built on that belief and has proven itself over the years; which in turn is the heart behind this program.
The overall benefit to therapeutic riding is immeasurable. When a rider is on a horse, he/she is around ten feet off the ground and the horse becomes the rider’s equalizer. The rider contains the reins in their hands. The horse is a live animal that responds and shows emotion. The horse is mobile and large, lifting the rider up both physically and psychologically.
Equine assisted activities allow individuals a gradual introduction to horses and their care. In equine assisted activities, individuals are instructed on the basic parts of the horse and general horse care. Physical aspects of horse care such as grooming may be utilized in equine assisted activities to enhance the individual’s range of motion, stretching, or coordination. Equine assisted activities can serve as an introduction to therapeutic riding.