Intrinsically riding a horse
is a beneficial activity for any person challenged
with a physical, cognitive and/or emotional
disability. The uniqueness of equine assisted activities lies in the gait of the therapy horse. The horse having gaits with a three dimensional swinging motion is a living therapy tool for the rider, enabling the rider to experience up/down, forward /backward, and side-to-side motion – all the while stimulating muscle, brain and social activity. Without
a doubt equestrian activities, in and out of a therapeutic setting, increase a rider’s posture, balance, strength, focus and coordination while also positively enhancing flexibility, self-awareness, confidence and a sense of independence. Social and emotional growth is too gained from the natural bond created between horse and rider.
The physical benefits of therapeutic riding include:
As the horse moves, the rider is constantly thrown off-balance. In an attempt to rebalance the rider’s muscles are required to contract and relax.
• Improved posture control and balance
• Increased muscle tone and strength
• Greater range of motion
• Decreased spasticity
• Better hand-eye coordination
• Reduction of abnormal movement patterns
The cognitive benefits aide participants to excel in:
The repetition of patterned movements required in controlling a horse quickens the reflexes and aids in motor planning.
• Development of learned skills
• Tactile awareness and sensory integration
• Improved application of direction
• Greater skill at sequencing, patterning and
The overall experience contributes to emotional gains by the rider:
Riding provides excitement and the sense of achievement of working independently as well as with a team.
• Increased self-control and awareness
• Better emotional control
• Greater self-awareness and self-confidence
The social benefits reaped by riders:
Being involved as a rider creates a shared interest and experience on which to build a social foundation.
• Friendship building
• Increased experiences
• Improving social skills and cooperation