Our Therapeutic Riding Program
In 1974, The Riding Centre got in on the ground floor of therapeutic riding with the institution of its Therapeutic Riding Program. Carolyn Bailey, Head Instructor for this program, is certified by Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) and the Cheff Center for the Handicapped. For over 25 years, the Riding Centre’s Therapeutic Riding Program has successfully served physically, mentally, and emotionally challenged children and adults in group and private lessons. Regional agencies and private physicians refer individuals for therapy at the Riding Centre. This treatment, also known as equine-assisted activities therapy, is quickly earning worldwide respect as an excellent alternative therapy.
The Benefits of Therapeutic Riding
The physical and psychological benefits of horseback riding for physically, mentally, and emotionally challenged children and adults are enormous. Only specially trained, gentle horses can provide such therapy. The horse’s slow, rhythmic motion helps work the muscles around a rider’s spine and encourages gentle movement of arms, shoulders, head, trunk, and the rest of the body. Students enjoy improved balance, coordination, and muscle tone, and doctors have identified benefits that can only be obtained by this alternative therapy.
The benefits are not only physical in nature or reserved for individuals with physical disabilities. There are emotional and psychological benefits as well. Horses are non-judgmental; they do not laugh when told secrets. They provide a strong shoulder to lean on and they do not shun people who are a little different.
Mentally challenged students increase confidence, concentration, and retention. Instructor Carolyn Bailey remembers a particular class of four mentally challenged adults who progressed from being led by volunteers to walking, trotting, cantering, and negotiating small jumps on their own. Carolyn was especially pleased with their ability to retain what they had learned from year to year.