Benefits of Therapeutic Riding

Doctors and rehabilitation specialists are increasingly recommending therapeutic riding for their patients because of the wide-ranging benefits. Research shows that riders who participate in equine assisted therapy can experience physical, emotional, and psychological rewards. Examples of psychological benefits include:

  • Increased general sense of well-being
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Emotional control and self-discipline
  • Social benefits
  • Interaction and the development of friendships with volunteers
  • Development of respect and love for animals
  • Increased experiences

Horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves a rider's body in a manner similar to the human gait. This means that riders show improvement in flexibility, balance, and muscle strength. Examples of physical benefits include:

  • Improved balance
  • Strengthened muscles
  • Improved coordination, faster reflexes, and better motor planning
  • Decreased spasticity and greater flexibility
  • Increased range of motion of the joints
  • Improved respiration and circulation
  • Stronger sensory integration

For individuals with diverse mental or emotional abilities, the relationships formed with the horse, the instructors, and the other riders can lead to increased confidence, patience, and self-esteem. These benefits are enhanced as a rider learns about all things equine. 

Educational benefits are another significant component of therapeutic riding. These include:

  • Sequencing, patterning, and motor planning
  • Differentiation between objects
  • Improved hand-eye coordination and visual-spatial perception

The bonds formed between the horses, riders, and volunteers are very powerful, and they are incredible to watch. Imagine the joy of escaping crutches or a wheelchair to find independence and freedom on the back of a horse.

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