Therapeutic Riding is about much more than giving people with limitations the chance to ride. It is more than the healing benefits brought by simply being outside in nature. The rhythm and balance of horse riding meet physical and internal needs.
There are numerous physical advantages. Head coordination often improves as a rider lifts his head to see where the horse is going (and to glance at people on the sidelines cheering him on.) Handling the horse reins encourages upper arm strength and hand control. Trail riding improves balance in the upper half of his body. The horse’s warmth and motion reduce muscle spasms and stiffness common to people who face physical limitations. Overall spatial awareness increases.
A horse’s movement forces the rider’s muscle groups to work together in ways wheelchairs and crutches do not require or even allow. Think of the horse functioning as an exercise machine working out muscles the person doesn’t typically use. It’s been said by changing the rider’s physical and emotional view, horses “even the playing field” for the rider. Visual obstacles are surmounted. People who are used to looking up to see everything can now look down and across their world. This change in perspective allows the rider to view himself as much more capable. Assumed restrictions begin to fall away.
Horses boost people to a level where they have an expanded physical view of the world. They promote the psychological edge of feeling equal. Riding horses is an exhilarating adventure. On a horse, the formerly restricted are free to move across large spaces without assistive devices. It’s physical and mental independence.