WHY THERAPEUTIC RIDING?
Riding opens up a new world of experiences to people of all ages. It is a great vehicle for encouraging otherwise boring things like exercise and rehab “work” because we all have such a great time together around the horses. Our “equine volunteers” are the unique facilitators of this therapy, and our volunteers help each person feel special, important and valued.
But how does this fun qualify as therapy? The rhythmic nature of the horse’s gait and the animal’s body heat provide a natural vehicle for physical therapy..loosening tight muscles, helping to strengthen the rider’s muscle tone and encouraging digestion and circulation. Under the direction of our trainers and their therapist guides, other physical benefits can include improvements in balance, posture, coordination, reflexes, fine and gross motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. The repetition of carefully selected therapeutic activities allows the rider to concentrate on their basic skills and regularly add new more challenging activities. We can add a horsey element to most any physical and sensory exercise for added value to our riders.
As the riders interact with the horses, many for the first time, they develop respect and love for the animals. Because horses require a great deal of attention, the riders bond quickly with them as they groom, feed, and ride them. They develop responsibility, patience and compassion as they care for the horses. The excitement of riding brings new experiences and an overall sense of well-being.
Winston Churchill once said, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” The staff and volunteers at GRACE Rides have found that adage to be true. Our Grace-full riders and Grace-filled volunteers build friendships and support and encourage one another as they discover the joys of riding. Their self-esteem and confidence soar as they conquer new challenges. Our farm offers all who visit and join in this good work a spiritual, physical and emotional outlet to get away from the world and love and be loved.
GREAT EQUINE THERAPY SITES –
Our favorite not local equine therapy center- Storybook Farm
A good introductory article for equine therapy with a good video
Another good ranch site – Spirit Reins
PATH International National Site
WHAT IS PATH INTERNATIONAL?
Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International changes lives by promoting excellence in equine assisted activities.
Since 1969, PATH Intl. has provided Equine Assisted Activity and Therapy (EAAT) programs in the United States and Canada through its network of nearly 800 member centers. This past year the association transitioned to a new name with PATH International. Each year, dozens of new centers initiate new programs and more than 38,000 individuals with disabilities benefit from activities which include therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, equine assisted psychotherapy, driving, interactive vaulting, and competition. Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, PATH’s mission is to “change and enrich lives by promoting excellence in equine assisted activities.” To accomplish this mission, PATH fosters safe, professional, ethical and therapeutic equine activities through education, communication, research and standards. The association ensures its standards are met through an accreditation process for centers and a certification process for instructors.
A section of PATH, the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA), founded in 1996, provides equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) for people with psychological issues and mental health needs, including anxiety, depression, and autism. EFP is facilitated by a licensed, credentialed mental health professional that works with an appropriately credentialed equine professional, or is dually credentialed as an equine professional.
The therapeutic value of horseback riding goes back centuries although the origin of organized therapeutic riding is relatively recently. The achievements of Liz Hartel of Denmark are generally regarded as the impetus for the formation of therapeutic riding centers in Europe. Polio impaired Hartel’s mobility but not her spirit. In 1952, she won the silver medal for Grand Prix dressage at the Helsinki Olympics. Medical and equine professional took notice and soon centers for therapeutic riding sprang up in Europe.
Canadians and Americans studied what was happening in England and quickly made plans to start centers. Two of the first were the Community Association of Riding for the Disabled (CARD) in Toronto, Ontario, organized by J.J. Bauer and Dr. R.E. Renaud, and the Cheff Center for the Handicapped in Augusta, Michigan, with Lida McCowan as executive director.
Recognizing the need for an organization to act as a clearinghouse for information on therapeutic riding, 23 individuals gathered at the Red Fox Inn in Middleberg, Virginia on November 2, 1969, and laid the groundwork for PATH. Today, many medical professionals, including the American Physical Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association, recognize the therapeutic value of equine assisted activities.
Please visit their website at here to learn more about this great organization. The contents of this page are an excerpt from the information they provide there.