Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Sweet AbbyTherapeutic horseback riding is a unique combination of sport, recreation, and education. There are many benefits to therapeutic riding for individuals with physical, cognitive or psychological disabilities. 

Therapeutic riding focuses on forming a partnership with the horse. Students gain confidence by mastering riding skills. Sitting astride a horse increases balance and coordination, strengthens muscles, and brings about body awareness. 

The horse's three-dimensional swinging gait closely emulates that of the human gait and allows the brain and body to practice correct walking movement patterns. The rhythmic movement and the warmth generated from the horse's body soothes and relaxes tight or painful muscles, joints, and tendons while building strength and flexibility. 

Most importantly, therapeutic riding is FUN! Riders make new friends and social interactions are developed between the horse, instructors, volunteers, and other students.


Physical Benefits

  • greater strength and agility
  • stretching and strengthening of underused or underdeveloped muscles
  • reduced spasticity
  • improve balance, posture and coordination
  • improve weight-bearing ability
  • improve circulation, respiration, and metabolism
  • improve fine and gross motor skills
  • improve reflexes
  • increase the rider’s awareness of their body in space
  • increase physical fitness and stamina
  • increase range of motion

Cognitive Benefits

  • sequencing
  • hand-eye coordination
  • decision-making
  • following directions
  • listening skills
  • multi-tasking
  • sensory integration
  • left/right discrimination
  • motor planning
  • patterning
  • visual/spatial perception

Psychological Benefits

  • FUN!
  • increase in recreation
  • empowerment
  • social interactions
  • responsibility
  • independence
  • improved self image
  • attention span
  • self-confidence
  • self-discipline
  • risk taking
  • patience
  • trust
  • freedom from wheelchairs and crutches

Social Benefits

  • friendships
  • development of respect for individuals and animals
  • love for animals
  • personal bonds
  • increased experiences
  • enjoyment
  • empathy and respect for others

Educational Benefits

  • through planned play and lessons, riders learn to identify
    • colors
    • numbers
    • shapes
    • animals
  • as well as working on reading, speech and problem solving

Who Benefits from Therapeutic Riding?

People who have the following:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Hypertonia
  • Hypotonia
  • Learning disabilities
  • PTSD
  • Down Syndrome
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Developmental Delays
  • Paraplegia
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Mental Retardation
  • Hearing impairments
  • Visual impairments
  • Stroke
  • Sensory integration disorder
  • Cognitive Disabilities