Horse Riding A Powerful Aid For People With Disabilities

Around one in every four people in the U.S. has a disability that impacts major life activities, reports the CDC, with the most common disability (mobility) affecting one in seven adults. There are six different categories of disabilities (mobility, cognition, hearing, vision, independent living, and self-care) and many of these can be improved through equine therapy. Read on to discover just a few ways in which horses can help heal mind, body and soul, and enable people to feel happier and more confident about their lives.

Horse Riding And Motor Skills

Horseback riding is no longer considered a ‘novel therapy’. Indeed, it is used on a global scale to help improve the quality of life and general state of health of many people – including those with motor issues. As reported in one study entitled Effectiveness of Equine Therapy in Children With Psychomotor Impairment, several studies have shown that horseback riding can improve gross motor function in children with conditions such as cerebral palsy. Cerebral Palsy Network, CPFN, lists equine therapy as one that is bringing hope to many people with cognitive, physical and behavioral difficulties. Horse riding has also been found to reduce spasticity in children with CP, which is why many experts recommend this activity as a supplement to traditional therapy.

The Skills Sharpened By Horse Riding

Tauffkirchen et al. mention the many ways that horse riding can be beneficial to people with disabilities. Firstly, it requires the rider to adapt to the horse’s swaying movements. Secondly, it motivates the individual to proactively take part in their own rehabilitation. Finally, a horse transmits 3D, rhythmic impulses to the rider, which are similar to the movements that take place when one is walking on the ground.

Horse Riding Is Beneficial To Many People

Currently, horse riding is used as much to deal with cognitive issues as it is for neurological ones. Just a few people it is benefiting worldwide include those with Down’s syndrome, ASD, learning or language disabilities and multiple sclerosis. Equine therapy is also used successfully for injury rehabilitation and cerebral vascular accidents. There are many reasons why its benefits are apt to such a wide array of conditions. For one, it is a non-weight-bearing activity that can accommodate most people. Secondly, it is a highly mindful and enjoyable activity; one in which the rider can feel connected to the horse and to surrounding nature. Many riders report a sense of peace and joy at once after a day out riding. Riding is also useful from a physical standpoint, since it strengthens core stability, reduces spasms, and improves coordination, balance and posture.

People who ride a horse regularly know how enjoyable and fulfilling the experience can be. For many, ‘liberating’ is the word of choice to discover the sensation of moving at a certain velocity while putting one’s trust in such a majestic animal. Horse riding is also an effective therapy for a host of neurological, cognitive and physical conditions. If you or a family member has a disability, consult with your doctor about whether or not equine therapy would make a good complement to your treatment plan.