About Therapeutic Riding
Therapeutic riding is a unique form of therapy, using the three dimensional movement of the horse to stretch and strengthen riders’ muscles, move their joints, and improve balance and coordination for walking. The movement of the horse mimics the human gait by being rhythmic, repeatable, and three-dimensional — all movements needed to simulate normal walking patterns. It so closely resembles our human gait that it helps physically challenged children discover the rhythm needed to initiate their own independent steps. Being astride a horse not only helps establish walking, it can also improve the quality of walking. Where walking is not a realistic goal, the horse’s steady movement stimulates the brain and neurological system, along with the hips and legs, preventing atrophy of walking muscles.
Pegasus has been a “god send” for my son Tommy, who is non-verbal and not ambulatory. It’s amazing what the program has done for him. He’s better with adapting to change, is able to express his likes and dislikes and it has been a huge boost to his confidence.
Mary Anne ~ Mother of a Pegasus Rider
The benefits of riding are not exclusively physical, nor are they limited to clients with physical disabilities. With more children being diagnosed with autism every day, equine-assisted activities and therapies have come to the forefront as a progressive treatment. Many in the medical community believe there is a special connection between horses and children with autism because both interpret the world pictorally. The things that horses observe are the same things that children see and react to, making them more in sync with each other. As this bond grows, progress such as eye contact, facial recognition, and interaction become possible with many riders.
Riding therapy has been found to be dramatically effective with mentally and emotionally challenged individuals by improving their socialization, personal development, and self-esteem. Such improvements often grow out of a rider building trust with the instructor and building a relationship with the horse. Participation in routine grooming and tacking of the horse and competitive events, such as the Handicapped Riders Division of the Devon Horse Show, gives our riders the opportunity to develop self-discipline and a sense of accomplishment. Clients take an active role in their own therapy, often reaching goals more quickly because of their increased motivation and commitment.