The vast majority of individuals who participate in therapeutic riding rehabilitation programs have shown significant positive outcomes. Regardless of the condition one may be dealing with, numerous research studies have clearly shown functional improvements in people who partake in this activity.
Practically any aspect of movement can be goal oriented when a horse is used for a functional restorative program. Almost anyone, regardless of ability can participate. Even if all of your extremities are involved; it is not unusual to transfer a rider from a quad wheelchair to the horse. You can mount a horse, participate in therapeutics, and learn to ride properly provided enough assistants are available to ensure your safety. Assistants are commonly referred to as side walkers, and come from a variety of backgrounds. In addition to the side walkers, one person is designated to guide the horse using a lead rope.
Balance, flexibility, posture, weight-bearing, endurance and even cognition are just some of the primary skills targeted during therapeutic riding sessions. Studies have shown that a rider sitting on a horse that is walking mimics the pelvic movements of normal gait on land. Rotational and postural activities are also an overflow of the horse simply walking. Flexibility and strengthening of the lower extremities is attained as the legs are passively stretched by the width of the horse’s midsection, while weight bearing is achieved by adjusting the stirrups. Cognitive improvements derive from the rider properly holding the reigns, making turns, performing small jumps and positioning the body appropriately for that activity. Finally increased self esteem and socialization involvement are another positive by product in making big strides.
To learn more or find a program near you, search the web for therapeutic horseback riding or visit http://www.americanhippotherapyassociation.org/.