Therapeutic Riding (TR)
These classes are designed for students of all ages (4 and up) with physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities. Games and activities are used to teach basic riding skills. But students also experience improvements in balance, strengthened muscle tone, increased attention span and memory, enhanced social skills, and develop fine and gross motor skills are just some of the numerous benefits resulting from horseback riding. Our goal is that students can learn the basics of horseback riding, and also learn skills that they can take into their daily lives. Examples of this would be: responsibility, relationships with others, and gaining independence.
What does class look like? Class for our riders begins with grooming and tacking their horses. The responsibility of helping with this task is important to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility. Once that is done students, volunteers, and horses head to the arena for riding activities; riding skills, games and fun! Classes end with untacking and treats for the horses. Volunteers are paired with the students to accompany them throughout the lesson.
Impact of Therapeutic Horseback Riding
The lives of LoveWay’s participants are changed in many ways as they develop friendships with both our horses and volunteers. Some take their first step, some speak their first word-all become stronger, more able children.
Benefits of the program include:
- improved expressiveness in speech and language;
- increased attention span and memory retention;
- enhanced sense of personal responsibility and integrity;
- increased sensory and spatial awareness;
- improved balance and whole body coordination;
- improved fine and gross motor skills.
Improved muscle tone and range of motion in the joints Tight or spastic muscles will be stretched while sitting on a horse. Riding with stirrups will stretch the heel cords and calf muscles. Stomach and back muscles are stretched as the rider maintains an upright posture against the movement of the horse. Arm and hand muscles are stretched as part of routine exercises and the act of holding and using the reins. The rhythmic motion of the horse reduces spasticity. Extensor spasms of the lower limbs receive therapeutic muscle stimulation. Improved muscle strength will also be evidenced as well as increased flexibility of abductor thigh muscles. Since the process of interacting with a horse is fun, we also see increased tolerance for exercise.
Increased respiration, circulation and digestion Trotting and cantering increase respiration and circulation. In addition to the student receiving this benefit, the volunteers who side walk or lead a horse receive these benefits. When the digestive tract is stimulated it increases the efficiency of digestion.
Improved personal interactions Autistic students are often unable to form emotional and social bonds with others. Learning to care for the horse as well as learning to ride requires that the student interact with the horse, instructor and volunteers. We often see such students begin to interact and respond in a meaningful way with those around them during their lessons.
Common Disabilities We Serve
LoveWay serves anyone with a diagnosed disability; physical, cognitive, or emotional. Some disabilities served include:
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sensory Processing Disorder