Therapeutic Riding consists of the therapy horse or pony, the volunteer(s), the rider and the instructor - the "team". Therapeutic Riding lessons are structured with a team approach. Each team participates in a weekly, one-hour group lesson during an eight-week session. Four to six riders similar in either age or ability focus on individual riding skills while gaining therapeutic benefits. These therapeutic benefits include increased muscle tone and strength; decreased spasticity, improved hand/eye coordination, balance, mobility, sequencing, sensory integration, color-number-letter identification and task directives. Additionally, our group lessons provide opportunities to enhance interaction and communication with peers, cooperation, turn taking, patience building, increased self-esteem and a heighten sense of well-being. Horseback Riding is highly motivating and FUN.
Goals are thoughtfully developed to foster independence and to provide challenging and educational activities. Input is from parents/guardians, rider, teacher and therapist--an instructor's lesson plan may include a wide variety of games and exercises designed to increase the rider's ability to listen, learn, and communicate. In addition, all riders work on improving their riding skills and a willingness to try new things and attain new goals. Riders not only improve their riding skills but there are opportunities for the whole horse experience such as grooming, leading, tacking, etc. Lessons may be held in the outdoor riding ring, trail rides, and in the barn.
Hippotherapy is defined by the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA, 2003) as "a physical, occupational and speech therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement." Patients who are successful with Hippotherapy often progress to Therapeutic Riding.
Guidelines have been developed for involvement with either Therapeutic Riding or Hippotherapy. Specific training for volunteers, leaders/horse handlers, instructors, and therapists is available through Central Kentucky Riding for Hope.
Central Kentucky Riding for Hope has a unique partnership with Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital of Lexington and its therapists. Each of these therapists providing direct services utilizing Hippotherapy as a treatment strategy has achieved Registration with the American Hippotherapy Association, an Affiliate of North American Riding for Hope Association.
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