Saturday, November 15, 2008

VERY Close to my Heart...

2 things in this world that I really, really love. Horses, and kids and people in need. Combine the 2 and this is what you get. The world's most willing people on the world's best horses. Ever since I got into horse back riding and teaching this is one of the dreams I've had of accomplishing. The Therapeutic riding program... What's better than this???
Horses are just amazingly gentle, large animals that allow people with disabilities to regain their balance, strength, and make them feel as though they have legs. The horse and rider in this case truly depend on each other.

Here are some fabulous riding facilities that I've researched, that provide such a great service. From this Site I copied and pasted the Benefits of therapeutic riding and who it helps.

Benefits of Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic riding and hippotherapy are based on the beneficial movement of the horse. The three-dimensional, rhythmical motion of a horse stimulates and works the muscles of the rider. The input to a rider of the horse's gait is almost identical to the human gait. This three-dimensional, rhythmical motion thus stimulates and works muscles of the rider and provides normal sensory-motor input of “walking” to the rider. In addition, exercises and tasks that would be dreary or considered a “chore” in traditional therapy settings become fun and game-like if they are part of a riding therapy session.
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.

Physically, equine-assisted therapy takes disabled riders through complex series of movements, which consciously and unconsciously use all the body's muscles. The horse rhythmically and naturally moves the body in a manner similar to the human gait, improving posture, balance and muscle control. In addition, horseback riding produces a rare opportunity for disabled individuals to enjoy the outdoors free of wheelchairs or crutches.
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.

Benefits consistently cited by riders and their families, therapists and doctors include:
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

Our students include children and young adults who have a variety of special needs, including:
Cerebral Palsy
Developmental Delay
Spinal Cord Injury
Head Injury

Down syndrome
Pervasive Developmental Delay
Attention Deficit Disorder
Vision/Hearing Impairment
Muscular Dystrophy
Multiple Sclerosis

I've volunteered and continue to volunteer at Riding facilities like these. The feelings are indescribable, and to be able to do something like this for others, and what could honestly be better? And NO ONE appreciates it more than they do.


Long Island Five said...

I raise a few eyebrows at my barn for riding in rainbow reins. I figure my horse appreciates my effort to improve my hands, despite the temporary fashion faux pas.

These reins are favored by a local theraputic riding program called Horseability. One barnmate snarked that I was using the Horseability reins, to which I quipped, it's all Horseability, isn't it?

Who doesn't benefit from improved motor skills, muscle tone, posture, coordination, concentration, etc?

Kudos to all those who run and volunteer at their local theraputic riding programs!

Havocec said...

We have a program at the barn where I take my lessons. It's called HALTR. They accomplish amazing things.

Trainer X said...

Amen to that Long Island and Havocec!!!!!!!

Virginia's Stupid Drivers said...

I've got a 21 year old brother with the mentality of a 2 year old. A baby, literally. He cannot speak, walk, feed himself, or make use of a toilet (that means diapers). Only he's been quite a blessing to our family. I feel a huge stab of remorse that he was born this way, but he truly has a purpose and a reason to be here. To teach the ignorant, selfish, and the uneducated that their life is not remotely as unfortunate as the handicapped.

I can't help but feel an enormous swell of pride that people are willing to help these kids. They say horses are the best medicine, and I be darned it is.

When my brother was younger we used to put him on the horses and he'd just have a blast rubbing his hands all over the horses, especially their mane. Of course, at that age... everything in the mouth!! The horses seemed to have an understanding and took phenomenal care of him.

I applaud people who take part in the therapeutic riding. I also frown on those who feel the mentally incapacitated are a leech on society. People on welfare are far more of a leech then these kids will ever be. My brother gets next to nothing (money wise) in support like those on welfare.

Wonderful blog for today!

Trainer X said...

Isn't it funny, how we tend to feel for the handicapped and mentally disabled, yet they are some of the MOST happy, fun, charismatic people I've ever met. They really are very joyful and YES They LOVE to be around and touch, pet, hug and love animals!! :):):)

kestrel said...

In MT there is a program called SAMS Riders. Fabulous program and amazing results.

GoLightly said...

Canada's CARD program. The Canadian Association for Riding for the Disabled.
Another charity idea for me this year:)

Next year, I must get up the nerve to say, again, dear mother-in-law, no more useless doo-dads?
Please give those dollars to a charity?

It's hard telling someone who loves to shop, to NOT SHOP.
How do you say that?? I have, but she hasn't listened, yet..

Thanks for the reminder!

hmmm, maybe a form letter...

Last night, at The Christilot Boylen clinic, I shook the hand of someone who shook the hand of Reiner Klimke!
I'm STILL, all agog:)

OldMorgans said...

It is fascinating to see how often horses adjust to the young and/or handicapped rider. I sold a horse who was spooky and insecure on the trail. She was meant to be the mom's horse but she (the mare) absolutely adopted the 6 yr old son. He could ride her anywhere & be safe. With him on board, she never spooked. And adult on board--"fend for yourself!"
I gave another somewhat insecure & not very confident horse to a young woman w/ mild CP for an arena horse. He takes care of her, shifting himself to help her maintain balance, and even gathers up all his courage to take her on the trails. To this date, he sill refuses to canter for her, feeling that she is not ready yet. He does now trot for her tho.
The horses know.

Tanaqui said...

I volunteered with a therapeutic riding school about ten years ago. There was one little autistic girl there, about nine or ten, who had never spoken a word until they put her on a horse. It was amazing to see the changes in these kids after even just a few lessons.

Tanaqui said...
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