Robinson: Therapeutic horseback riding in winter
One might ask the question, “What is therapeutic horseback riding?” Therapeutic horseback riding involves teaching riding skills to individuals with disabilities, with adaptations as needed. The primary goal of therapeutic riding is to learn riding and horsemanship skills. However, as the movement of the horse is inherently therapeutic, riders frequently enjoy secondary benefits such as increased postural control, balance, strength and speech.
The movement of the horse as a person is riding at a simple walk challenges their balance, coordination and self-confidence. The unique walking gait of a horse most closely resembles that of a human. Therefore, when a person is riding a horse, the rhythm and motion is therapeutic. The body gains strength through its adjustment to the horse’s gait.
Not all riders have the desire or ability to sit astride a horse, ground or unmounted therapy is built around interactions with horses. This type of therapy can be used to assist people with mental and emotional difficulties, including anxiety and mood disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), behavioral challenges, or individuals undergoing life transitions or loss.
The emphasis during ground therapy is on developing a relationship with the horse through basic grooming, leading, care and stable management. “Memory journeys” provide incredible benefits for residents of senior and adult living centers. These sessions includes discussions about horse markings, breeds, horse care, grooming time with horses for a great upper body workout and time to reminiscence for those who grew up on farms.
The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) offers therapeutic riding lessons for all levels of riders from beginners to advanced year-round as well as ground therapy. In the summer, our facility is located at the front of the YMCA – Snow Mountain Ranch property, where in addition to lessons they are able to offer multi-day camps and trail rides. In the winter, they offer lessons at Strawberry Creek Ranch in Granby in an indoor riding arena. To learn more about NSCD’s therapeutic riding program contact firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.nscd.org.
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