What is Therapeutic Riding?

Therapeutic riding is a multi-disciplinary treatment modality using the unique properties of the horse in planned activities as a primary medium for treatment of persons challenged by physiological/neurological conditions “that influence learning, motor outcomes, cognitive and emotional development, speech and communication, interpersonal relations and more.”

The treatment’s primary purpose is to improve the health and wellbeing of people through restoration, remediation, or rehabilitation in order to improve functioning and independence as well as reduce or eliminate the effects of illness or disability.

Therapeutic riding uses the rhythmic movement of the horse to provide numerous physical and psychological benefits. It is also strenuous aerobic activity stimulating a strong sense of mobility, power and control. This therapy evolved from two directions:

  • The adapted sports model practiced by the British
  • The more clinical model of the Germans and Swiss which emphasizes treatment.

The philosophical backgrounds of these two approaches differ. The British model promotes mental and physical well-being as a recreational sport. The German and Swiss model relies upon a medical orientation which stresses postural alignment and symmetry as goals of equestrian activity. These two approaches were joined by a third approach which emphasized education. Each of these these approaches — sport recreation, medicine and education — encompass specific goals, yet all three overlap, complement and support each other.

Human-Horse relationship

Human-horse relationships decisively demonstrate that, since both humans and horses are conscious feeling beings, the interaction between the two forges a profound bonded relationship potentially healing and positively transforming the human.

The human-horse bonding is developed by building connections and partnerships in a non-threatening environment like a therapeutic riding centre. Interacting with the horse provides multiple dimensions and possibilities, allowing positive feelings to emerge, empowerment, companionship, love, and a real sense of belonging. Partnering with the horse in various ground and horseback riding activities does open doors to other realities. It is possible to pass a great emotional sensitivity between the horse and the human. Human-horse bonding techniques facilitate different opportunities for clients to grasp and normalize fears, through direct contact, and communication with the horse. Human horse relationships provide and facilitate a powerful holistic and positive therapeutic approach.

Types of Activities

Hippotherapy

Hippotherapy (from the Greek word “hippos” which means horse) is a treatment that uses the multidimensional movement of the horse for riders with movement dysfunctions and or neurological disorders. In hippotherapy, the horse influences the rider rather than the rider controls the horse.

The treatment therapy takes place in a controlled environment of the riding arena, where graded sensory input can elicit appropriate adaptive responses from the rider. Specific riding skills are not taught (as in therapeutic riding), but rather a foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing. This foundation can then be generalized to a wide range of daily activities.

  • Vaulting: The goals of vaulting are to build confidence, encourage social interaction and foster independence, as well as improve balance, strength and flexibility
  • Dressage: The goals of dressage are to improve posture, balance, coordination, communication, concentration, self-awareness, organization and control
  • Therapeutic riding/Riding for the Disabled: The goals of which are to develop riding skills and good general health
  • Western riding: This originated in the United States of America, and is based on the style of riding adopted by working horsemen who would spend hours in the saddle locating, roping and branding cattle. Not only did their horse need to demonstrate excellent cow ‘sense’, it had to remain calm and relaxed whilst covering large distances, negotiating obstacles such as gullies and bridges, and above all conserve energy.

New developing riding sports for the disabled also include:

Social Awareness Activities    

INTRA has encouraged several other social activities that include:

  • Volunteer programs for overseas students
  • Volunteer programs for the challenged
  • Social club for the traumatically injured
  • Educational center and club house

Volunteer social life, summer barbeques and other events.