Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Disciplines’ Category

For those who are recovering from injury or who live with mental or physical disability, the human-horse relationship can open the door to an entirely new realm of possibilities. Horse and human become partners in a therapeutic relationship which offers a multitude of opportunities to focus on and explore abilities rather than disabilities.  Students learn to be at ease, rather than dis-eased.

Physical aging, another component is known to be the cumulative effects of lifestyle choices, and unfortunately, many people with injury/disability necessarily lead sedentary lives.  Furthermore, the ability to live independently depends largely on a person’s degree of mobility, and sedentary lifestyle contributes to mobility issues.  Therapeutic horseback riding improves the strength, tone, flexibility, and reflexes of postural muscles and leg muscles, thereby increasing stability of gait and balance in people with mild to moderate mobility disabilities.  Those with more severe disabilities benefit from improved balance, coordination, and postural control essential to healthy respiratory and digestive function.

Carriage driving also addresses postural control, use of diaphragmatic and core muscle groups, eye and hand coordination and socialization and communication skills. Although clients aren’t mounted, participation in this program increases physical activity levels even for clients in wheelchairs. These physical benefits contribute to the maintenance of independent lifestyles in individuals recovering from injury or living with disability.

Physical Benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Therapeutic horseback riding improves the strength, tone, flexibility, and reflexes of postural muscles and leg muscles, thereby increasing stability of gait and balance in people with mild to moderate mobility disabilities. Those with more severe disabilities benefit from improved balance, coordination, and postural control essential to healthy respiratory and digestive function. Carriage driving also addresses postural control, use of diaphragmatic and core muscle groups, eye and hand coordination and socialization and communication skills. Although students aren’t mounted, participation in this program increases physical activity levels even for clients in wheelchairs. These physical benefits contribute to the maintenance of independent lifestyles in individuals recovering from injury or living with disability.

Psychological Benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Individuals recovering from injury or living with disability need to be engaged in healthy, supportive relationships to help enhance their sense of self-confidence and autonomy, and to cope effectively with the challenges of their circumstances. Equestrian pursuits, by their very nature are an exercise in cooperation, connection and relationship building. They require the cultivation of mutual trust and respect, patience and compassion, assertiveness and sensitivity, focus and perseverance. Horses, like people, respond positively in relationships characterized by these elements. As students practice the use of these skills and qualities in the saddle and on the ground, horses respond in kind rewarding and reinforcing clients’ development of healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms. These skills and qualities contribute to clients’ ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships with family members and friends and helps develop an overall sense of self-confidence and autonomy; all of which enhance the individual’s ability to cope with practically any challenge life offers.

Educational Benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Therapeutic horseback riding assists in building a good base for education by aiding in the students ability to learn. Therapeutic riding can help in the basic skill of remedial reading, by assisting students with the foundation of reading, recognizing the different shapes, sizes and colors. These educational lessons can be taught much more easily on horseback, as part of a games and activities. Remedial math is also learned by counting the horses steps, objects around the arena, or even the horses legs.  Activities that involve addition and subtraction can be taught throughout a therapeutic riding session with the use of the horse, volunteers, and other students. With these concepts being taught through games willingness to learn and participate in increased.

Social Benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Many adults recovering from injury or living with disability, particularly older adults, have limited opportunity for social interaction due to multiple factors including transportation, financial restrictions, and health issues. Decreased levels of social interaction and engagement have been shown to contribute to depression, self-neglect, a sense of loneliness and low self-esteem. Students  are stimulated and find themselves interacting and engaging with volunteers, instructors, horse-handlers, therapists, other students, and the horses themselves. Moreover, volunteers and students vary in ages, from teens to senior citizens, providing enjoyable intergenerational interaction and the opportunity for students to make new friends and expand their social network.

Like recreational riding, therapeutic riding is an excellent form of exercise therapy that is fun, safe, challenging and socially rewarding. The goals of therapeutic and recreational riding revolve around learning horsemanship, improving basic riding skills and many times learning a specific riding discipline such as dressage or western pleasure. In therapeutic riding, special attention is paid to facilitating improvements in musical strength, coordination, balance, stamina, self confidence and social interaction. Lesson plans may be tailored individually to address clients’ special needs. The therapeutic riding instructors are specially trained and certified to instruct students with a wide variety of physical and mental disabilities, as well as students who are not disabled.  Therapeutic and recreational sessions are conducted according to each rider’s interests, needs, abilities and rate of progress.

Read Full Post »

Quantum Leap FarmLocated in Odessa, Florida, Quantum Leap Farm’s Horse and Healing program exists to enrich and enhance the lives of active and injured service members and their families, and civilian adults with mental and physical disabilities by engaging them in various equestrian activities designed to promote and improve physical, mental and social well-being. Quantum Leap Farm provides therapeutic and recreational horseback riding, hippotherapy, carriage driving, equine assisted mental and behavioral health services, and a variety of equine experiential learning programs and workshops.

I had the pleasure of working with the staff, students and volunteers at Quantum Leap Farm as a riding instructor. Seeing first hand the healing power of the horse and the benefits that therapeutic riding offers to persons with disabilities is always a life changing event.

Each equestrian activity offers a wide variety of therapeutic benefits to participants recovering from injury or living with mental or physical disability. These benefits may be categorized as physical, psychological, educational and social in nature.

Therapeutic horseback riding improves the strength, tone, flexibility, and reflexes of postural muscles and leg muscles, thereby increasing stability of gait and balance in people with mild to moderate mobility disabilities.  Those with more severe disabilities benefit from improved balance, coordination, and postural control essential to healthy respiratory and digestive function. The aim of any program is to improve self-confidence and mental relaxation, along with the physical benefits.  In addition, one would hope for significant carry- over of improvements from the therapy sessions to activities of daily living.

For those who are recovering from injury or who live with mental or physical disability, the human-horse relationship can open the door to an entirely new realm of possibilities. Horse and human become partners in a therapeutic relationship which offers a multitude of opportunities to focus on and explore abilities rather than disabilities.  Students learn to be at ease, rather than dis-eased. I am honored to have been part of the Quantum Leap-Horses and Healing team and working with amazing staff, students and horses.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts