Therapeutic Horseback Riding

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“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of man.” As Winston Churchill uttered this famous quote, he was speaking of the powerful impact a horse can have on a human. To most horse owners, riding is a soothing and remedial experience, but to disabled individuals, it can be a life changing form of therapy. One out of five Americans are born or develop a disability in his or her lifetime, many of which are incurable. Currently, there are over 56 million physically or mental disabled living in the U.S. alone (United States Census Bureau 1). Therapeutic riding differs from other forms of therapy because it connects emotionally to each patient, which produces results physically, mentally, and socially. Currently…show more content…
When the word “therapy” comes up, horses are not usually what come to mind. What many people do not know is that equine facilitated therapy, or hippotherapy, can produce results that are not achievable in a clinical setting. Fairly new, Hippotherapy has only been practiced and researched over the last thirty years. By utilizing the movement of the horse, it is used as an occupation speech, language, and physical therapy, which is integrated into many rehabilitation approaches (About American Hippotherapy Association, Inc). Originating from the Greek word, “hippos” literally translating to horse, and therapy meaning “treatment intended to help or heal a disorder,” Hippotherapy is defined as “treatment with the help of the horse.” It…show more content…
The benefits of therapeutic riding have been known for centuries, discovered by the Greeks, who harnessed its power of emotional and physical assistance. Today, it is recognized as a recreational sport or adaptive riding for disabled children or adults that teaches the skills that are necessary to ride as independently as they possibly can. Each rider has the opportunity to be involved in a “normal” extracurricular activity while still receiving all the natural benefits horse riding has to offer. Many riders even train to show and compete with their peers in the special Olympics (Nugent). When riding, riders develop stronger muscle tone, improve balance, and reinforce good posture. Therapeutic riding differs from hippotherapy because it focuses on emotional benefits of riding, such as increased self-esteem, confidence, self-control, and accomplishment (Benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding). I have been blessed to personal witness the miracles of therapeutic riding not just once, but weekly. As a volunteer at SIRE therapeutic riding center, I have formed a special connection with my rider and horse. Lauren, who is mentally and physically handicap only speaks when she is on her horse, Hootie. She will only utter “walk on” and “Hootie whoa,” the commands to go and stop. Her mother Caren describes how Lauren’s personality brightens after her lessons at Sire. In an interview she explains that

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