Forming a partnership with a thousand pound animal can offer a tremendous sense of freedom and independence to a disabled individual, and can promote feelings of trust and self-worth. In fact, there a numerous case histories and increasing numbers of research articles that have documented disabled riders gaining the ability to walk, nonverbal clients speaking their first words, emotionally disabled children gaining the ability to trust again or to interact with others, and children with learning disabilities showing improvements in school, all due to their participation in therapeutic riding programs.
Cognitively, equine-assisted therapy helps to “ground the nervous system” and facilitates higher cognitive function; improves sensory integration, verbal processing, etc.
Emotionally, equine-assisted therapy provides the opportunity for riders to bond with the horse, instructor, and volunteers, which assists in the development of trust. It is also effective in calming emotive outbursts and reinforcing appropriate behaviors. Contact with the horses and horsemanship training provides a non-competitive setting for learning. New abilities, self-discipline, improved concentration and risk taking build self-confidence.
Socially, equine-assisted therapy nurtures a positive self-image. Disabled riders often experience independence in an unique way; they are able to control a 1,000 pound animal! They also develop an awareness of being part of a team. All riders have the ability to learn skills and participate in a recognized sport. All riders grow in self-esteem, which they take back into their own worlds.
increased range of motion and muscle tone;
improved gross and fine motor skills, balance, posture and coordination;
increased concentration, spatial awareness/orientation, self-awareness and self-discipline;
increased cognitive skills;
increased speech and language;
increased independence and confidence;
increased self-esteem due to the acquisition of skill in a recognized sport
Spinal Cord Injury
Pervasive Developmental Delay
Attention Deficit Disorder