What is Therapeutic Riding?

Therapeutic Riding is a form of therapy using horses to help persons with intellectual or physical challenges. Challenges range from physical through learning and emotional disabilities. Many riders experience a connection to the horse that few sports can create. For those riders who cannot walk, the horse is their feet, their vehicle of transport. Not only does this help raise their self-esteem but it also teaches them essential skills. It improves balance, creates trust and creates a friendship between rider and horse. Check out our photo gallery.

What do the riders get out of it?

Physical-Gains-riding sessions utilize exercises that focus on improving the riders balance, coordination, core physical strength, posture, flexibility, muscle stimulation and/or relaxation, stretching, and range of motion; as a non-weight bearing activity. The different gaits of the horse can also be used to help a rider become aware of different muscle groups. Riding is enjoyable and the participants tend to have an increased tolerance and motivation when compared to similar exercises performed at the therapy room, hospital, or doctor’s office.

What are the benefits?

Using riding games, trail rides and challenges suited to the abilities of the riders, therapeutic riding:

  • Improves balance, coordination, posture and reflexes
  • Increases strength, mobility, flexibility and muscle tone
  • Enhances concentration and learning ability
  • Helps develop confidence, trust, responsibility and cooperation
  • Encourages socialization and friendships
  • And above all – it’s fun & exciting!

Group lessons are at Camp Chief Hector in the Spring  (May – June), Summer (July – August) and Fall  (September – October). Other times are by arrangement. We also offer individual horsemanship times at Camp Chief Hector and Bow Valley Riding Association.

Cognitive Gains – riding sessions focus on improving hand-eye coordination, judgment skills, sequencing, patterning, motor planning, verbalization, attention span, self-awareness, self-confidence, responsibility, sensory integration, self-discipline, and emotional control. As horses respond to the direct action and reaction stimuli; interactions with a horse promotes effective communication with both animal and human. This real-life situation helps riders utilize relationship building skills to life outside of horses, and helps riders make appropriate adjustments to things they cannot control.