Developed in Europe in the 1950's, therapeutic riding was used as a tool for improving the lives of those with physical disabilities. Today, it is used for children and adults with a variety of disorders. They range anywhere from autism, to speech problems, to substance abuse. Equine Therapy is fantastic for stretching, strengthening, and toning different muscles. The natural movement of the horse mimics the way the pelvis moves when we walk, therefore training the body to move in the correct way. It helps to develop the proper muscles that coordinate and assist the way we stand and walk.
For a child with a speech problem, being around the horses works wonders. The child is encouraged to talk to the horse in order to give commands and tell it what to do. As the child begins to use the proper words, they gain confidence. This leads to further development, not only in their speech, but in their social skills, the child is learning to interact.
Equine Therapy does not just involve riding. The children are taught to groom the horses as well. This helps to teach them how to care for a living thing and strengthens their problem solving abilities. One of the best benefits that Equine Therapy has to offer is the simple fact that horses do not judge. Horses do not care what you look like, how you speak, or what is wrong with you. They like you for you and will take care of you, if you take care of them. This helps children with behavioural and emotional issues. They find that they can learn to trust, express feelings, and just to talk. Working within the barn helps children learn how to develop and stick to a schedule, and also how to handle the situation if the schedule has to be rearranged.
Horses are an amazing self esteem boost, especially when a child, that struggles to control his or her own mind and body, realizes that they are able to control something that is around 1,000+ pounds and has a mind of it's own.
Horses have wonderful healing powers. Just ask anyone who owns a horse, or rides. It is truly remarkable what an hour or two with a horse can do.