From the moment an individual arrives at the stables, they are welcomed into the environment as both a learner and a participant.
Therapeutic riding is especially designed for people that have experienced social and/or physical challenges due to a diagnosed disability, mental health difficulties, behavioural difficulties or other issues that have brought about personal challenges for them.
Placement preparation looks at any mobility or communication issues for the potential participant and ensures that they are fully facilitated within the farm environment. When necessary, a care worker may attend with a participant.
The focus throughout the placement is on ability rather than on disability, with a recognition that each person has a unique role to play in bettering the environment for themselves and for others.
As a social intervention, therapeutic riding is carried out in a calm supported environment by a trained professional.
Activities and exercises are carefully chosen and begin with simple tasks such as leading the horse, rugging and feeding.
Beginning with gentle interaction, therapeutic horsemanship increases self-esteem and nurtures the development of a healing and supportive bond between the horse and human. This experience can be carried into other relationships in the individual’s life, enhancing confidence and empathy. It also teaches new skills and an understanding of the horse’s environment.
Therapeutic riding impacts on different systems of the body, helping to regulate and stabilise them. Physical activity, cognitive stimulation and emotional connection are all supported, while the strength, rhythmic motion and warmth of the horse improve muscle tone, balance and coordination.
Equine Therapy, Livery and Therapeutic Riding in the Suir Valley, Waterford
The rhythmical walking motion of the horse closely simulates a person’s walking gait.
Even with all the technological advances made in the field of physical therapy, no one has been able to replicate this movement on a machine.
Participants experience improvements in muscle strength, flexibility, balance, postural control, coordination, endurance, sensory registration, visual/spatial orientation, motor control, rhythm/timing, physical awareness and attentiveness.
Studies have shown significant results in strengthening balance and core muscles, even in a relatively short period of time
Cognitive: Therapeutic horsemanship offers a motivational opportunity to improve concentration, attention span, memory, communication, decision making, information processing, problem solving, sequencing, patience, judgment and insight development.
It can also help with the participant’s ability to improve social interaction and an awareness of physical risk in the environment.
Behavioural: The positive horse and human interaction experienced can result in a greater sense of teamwork, responsibility, impulse control, limit setting, self-discipline, regulation, and relaxation.
Emotional: As participants experience the unconditional trust and patience of a therapy horse, changes are seen in self-confidence, self-awareness, mood regulation, hopefulness, goal setting and positive risk taking.
Participants become able to address both successes and failures as positive learning opportunities.
The connection between horse and human has been proven to foster respect and confidence, while the gentle loving nature of the horse lessens anxiety and fear.
Social: The therapy horse’s ability to model kindness and respect to the participant fosters positive interaction between humans. When working with other participants, improvements are seen in teamwork, co-operation, trust, respect, leadership, responsibility, and empathy.
In being given the chance to connect with another living being, there are numerous intangible rewards, including the development of communication skills, trust and a sense of accomplishment.
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Kilmeaden, Waterford County, Ireland