People with disabilities can obtain beneficial results from association with horses. The movement of a horse strengthens muscles throughout a rider’s body and promotes better overall health. In many cases, riding has also led to increased mobility for the rider. Horses can also provide psychological benefits to people whether they actually ride or not.
Therapeutic riding begins with gentle exercises performed on horseback. These exercises include such things as leaning forward to pet the horse’s neck, leaning backwards to pat the horse’s rump and twisting left and right in the saddle. Each rider is assisted by ‘side walkers’ who make sure that they remain secure in the saddle while performing the exercises. The rhythmic movement of the horses walk can stimulate nerves and the exercises increase mobility.
Students are shown how to lead the horse and give it a treat. Students who ride well only have one volunteer assisting them. Some students have three volunteers assisting them- just to make sure they stay balanced. All of RDA’s horses are assessed to make sure that they have the right temperament for working with children. Some days, the horses work in the ring, some days they go on a trail ride through the bush. Everyday is a wonderful experience!!
Horse riding offers an opportunity for enjoyment, challenge, friendship, laughter, achievement, independence and confidence.