What is Therapeutic Riding?
Therapeutic riding is “an equine-assisted activity for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs.” (PATH Int’l https://www.pathintl.org/resources-education/resources/eaat/198-learn-about-therapeutic-riding)
While the primary objective of therapeutic riding is to learn to ride a horse, the process of learning to ride brings therapeutic value to the rider. Long-term therapeutic goals such as improved balance, greater focus, lowered anxiety, and increased compassion and empathy (see our list of benefits here) are realized as the rider develops equestrian skills and experience.
How our Therapeutic Riding Lessons Work
Our therapeutic riding lessons are taught privately, semi-privately or in groups of 2-3 students. They typically last an hour and occur once per week during each of our three riding sessions: Spring, Summer, and Fall. Our Spring and Fall sessions usually last 10 weeks and our summer session usually lasts 6 weeks.
As we work through our COVID-19 re-opening plans, our Fall 2020 semester currently consists of two 5-week sessions and we hope to resume normal operations for our Spring 2021 semester, starting in February 2021.
Trained volunteers assist both the instructors and the riders to ensure the safety of the riders as confidence and skill are built. Volunteers lead horses, walk beside riders, and may even help facilitate communication as needed.
Therapeutic Riding Lesson Requirements
For the safety of our riders and volunteers, all riders must meet the following criteria:
- Weigh less than 200 pounds in order to be safely dismounted in an emergency
- Have sitting balance (side walkers can’t be asked to support the weight of the rider). If riders have minimum sitting balance, they must weigh 40lbs or less.
- Be at least 4 years old
- Have a disability that is compatible with therapeutic horsemanship and have a therapist or physician to complete a medical form