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Archive for the ‘Florida Equestrian Facilities’ Category

Nestled in downtown Orlando FL, you will find a team of loyal horses, staff and volunteers that are dedicated to enriching the lives and experiences of children and adults with mental and physical disabilities by engaging them in various equestrian activities designed to promote and improve physical, mental and social well-being. Freedom Ride is built on the conviction that we are not defined by our limitations.

It all began with two riders, a borrowed horse, the support of a handful of dedicated volunteers and a rented space at a local barn. In 2001 the organization was awarded a lease on 10 acres from the City of Orlando, and after two years of hard work, sweat and dedication the facility relocated to its new home in February 2003. Since the relocation,  Freedom Ride has increased to serve over 150 individuals annually through their therapeutic and hippotherapy programs.

The therapeutic riding lessons are taught by a NARHA certified therapeutic riding instructor with a team of 1-3 volunteers. Riders participate in tasks and games that encourage physical strengthening and cognitive improvement, while learning basic riding skills. The emphasis is on developing riding skills in a safe environment that is both therapeutic and fun. Specific goals are set for each rider at the beginning of a session based upon input from the rider’s parents, physician, and therapists.

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.

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.

Freedom Ride also offers hippotherapy to the community. Hippotherapy literally refers to therapy aided by a horse. Unlike therapeutic riding, where specific riding skills are taught, hippotherapy is a physical, occupational, speech or language therapy treatment that utilizes the horse’s movement as part of an integrated program to achieve beneficial outcomes for students.
Specially trained physical and occupational therapists use this treatment for students with movement dysfunction. In a Hippotherapy session, the horse provides multidimensional movement, which is variable, rhythmic and repetitive and influences the student rather than the student controlling the horse. The student is positioned on the horse and actively responds to the horse’s movement. The therapist directs the movement of the horse; analyzes the students responses; and adjusts the treatment accordingly. The horse’s movement has a great effect on postural control, sensory systems, and motor planning that can be used to facilitate coordination and timing, grading of responses, respiratory control, sensory integration skills and attentional skills.

A Licensed Physical or Occupational Therapist, certified with the American Hippotherapy Association, conducts the sessions providing a treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement. Hippotherapy naturally provides an integrated, multi-sensory experience and can also be modified to enhance or decrease certain types of sensory stimulation.
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 and not disabilities.  Students learn to be at ease, rather than dis-eased. I am honored to have been part of the Freedom Ride team and working with amazing staff, students and horses. Freedom Ride truly exemplifies the meaning of Horsepower for the Spirit.

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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.

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