The mission of SIRE is to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities using horseback riding and related therapeutic activities. Using the movement and spirit of the horse and the teamwork of the rider, instructor or therapist, and up to three volunteers provides amazingly positive results while operating in a safe and friendly environment.
Since 1983, SIRE has provided therapeutic equestrian services to an increasing number of children and adults with a wide variety of disabilities. Today, SIRE has two locations in the greater Houston area: one in Hockley, west of Tomball, and another in the Spring area, east of I-45 and north of FM 1960.
SIRE serves a wide variety of people with disabilities who have cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, intellectual disabilities, developmental delay, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.
There are several components of the program in addition to horseback riding skills. They include hippotherapy, vaulting, carriage driving, and ground work.
Therapeutic horseback riding is the basic activity and provides training in traditional horsemanship skills such as English and Western styles of riding based on the unique therapy goals of each rider. Because SIRE offers such variety, we can adapt to the needs and goals of the individual. We can not only customize a therapy program, but also help the riders meet their personal recreational goals through competition in riding, vaulting and carriage driving. In therapeutic horseback riding, the rider learns to influence the movement of the horse.
Hippotherapy is a clinical specialty that differs from therapeutic riding -- in Hippotherapy, the movement of the horse influences the movement of the rider. A specially trained therapist (a licensed physical or occupational therapist) evaluates the client, develops specific therapy goals, and works one-on-one with the client. The difference is that the rider does not affect the movement of the horse. The therapist uses the horse for facilitating the movements and postures for the client. This quality of movement from the horse is the premise for hippotherapy. This is, therefore, a specialized form of medical treatment when a trained therapist develops a care plan for their client using the horse as their primary method of treatment.
Driving a horse in a carriage facilitates two-handed activities, enhances spatial awareness, orientation for left and right, improves sequencing abilities and utilizes both gross and fine motor activities during harnessing and driving. The impact of the movement of the carriage provides sensory motor input to the driver at a different rate than when riding horseback. The SIRE driver also has an able-bodied driver for safety.
Vaulting is comparable to gymnastics on horseback. These riders benefit from improved balance, coordination, greater gravitational security, enhanced ability to locate where they are in space, and improved memory sequencing. The motion of the horse provides sensory motor input to the riders' nervous system that augments the challenge of the vaulting positions.
The information provided in this website was supported by Grant/Cooperative Agreement Number U59DD000906 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.
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