Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding

S has been riding weekly at a therapeutic horseback riding facility since he was in the 7th grade. This is his sixth year of riding.  It has been a wonderful activity for him to participate in. He benefits in so many ways related to PT, OT, and Speech.

Physical Benefits
*It is building his core muscle strength.
*It stretches his legs. It also is motivation to stretch at home since it is apparent to him and those helping him if he hasn't been stretching. It is harder for him to get on the horse.
*His posture improves while he is riding.
*He has control of a horse.
*He has the ability to get the horse to do things even when his own body doesn't do what he asks of it.
*The horses have a calming effect on him.

Speech Benefits
*He has to articulate concerns if something isn't right (equipment, position on the saddle).
*He has to be able to give instructions to staff if someone is subbing for his regular instructor/horse lead/side walker (explaining how to assist him while mounting or dismounting).
*He has to communicate his equipment needs (what kind of stirrups he uses, which reins he prefers, etc) if someone new is working with him and requires clarification on what he needs.

One year he took Speech Therapy at this facility, so they did his speech lessons while riding. His Speech Therapist was wonderful and really wanted to help him in all aspects. His PT from a private clinic came out to observe and give helpful suggestions. The PT also realized that S was capable of doing more than he had shown in the clinic; the PT was also able to start working on exercises in the clinic that would be beneficial during riding. S worked hard on those exercises because he knew it would help with riding.

Additional Benefits
*His confidence increases while he is on the horse.
*He has the ability to follow multi step directions while controlling a horse.  [This is the same child who looks at me funny when asked to do more than one thing at home, and he isn't on a horse.]
*He needs to be aware of cues the horse sends him and read the horse's body language.
*He needs to be flexible if he needs to ride another horse or work with other people. He has been known to ask instructors about their qualifications.  Just saying...

In addition to the above benefits, we have had the opportunity to meet some amazing families here.  Among the parents, we are able to ask each other questions, provide resources, and give an encouraging word when needed.  The students are able to support and encourage each other also.

S is in a very supportive environment.  The staff at this facility is wonderful!  All of the instructors are good, and S has worked with a number of them.  That being said, he has a favorite instructor; he is with her this session.  He has has favorite instructor, a side walker who has been with him for quite a while, and a horse lead who has worked with him for a while.  All is well in his world!

With all of these things to be thankful for, I will be enjoying myself on the couch with chocolate.

Linking up with:


  1. Visiting you through the Therapy Thursday link up. I've been fascinated with horse therapy for several years now. I've always thought it might benefit my youngest, just not sure how to go about finding resources. Thanks for sharing a list of benefits. :)

    1. To find a center, you can go to Our son loves it!

  2. That sounds great. I really liked the way you listed all the different areas that you see this helping improve. I think it is something that Miss K would like. Maybe I need to look around our area and see if there is anything. Thanks for linking up with Therapy. Thursday.