General Benefits

 

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The benefits that therapeutic riding offers to disabled individuals are widespread. Unlike traditional forms of therapy, therapeutic horseback riding benefits participants physically, psychologically, and emotionally. The specific benefits offered by therapeutic riding to each individual vary depending on the disability of that individual but therapeutic riding benefits every participant in certain areas. For starters, therapeutic horseback riding is a uniquely equalizing and normalizing type of therapy. Instead of highlighting what a disabled person cannot do, it allows the rider to participate in an activity where his or her own limitations are minimized. The ability of the rider to control the horse inspires responsibility and a feeling of teamwork. Therapeutic riding increases the self confidence and the self-esteem of participants. It gives riders a sense of accomplishment and improves their overall level of emotional well-being while reducing their stress levels. Therapeutic riding encourages the development of patience, emotional control, and self-discipline in riders. It encourages the riders to try new experiences and often increases their interest in the outside world. Best of all, therapeutic riding is enjoyable and provides disabled individuals with opportunities that they may otherwise have lacked. Therapeutic riding can even help individuals learn. Games played while on horseback teach riders letters, different colors, shapes, and sizes. These lessons ultimately help improve participants' remedial reading skills. Therapeutic riding can improve an individual's remedial math skills through counting games and by counting objects around the ring. Resistance to learning is lowered because the necessary skills are taught through games. Therapeutic riding improves participants' sequencing, patterning, and motor planning skills. It leads to improved visual/spatial perception and hand-eye coordination. Therapeutic riding is a unique therapy in the physical sense because the horse’s gate is similar to a person’s walk and so it stimulates a person’s hips, torso and pelvis to move as they would if that person were walking. This makes it a great tool for someone who is just learning to walk or who needs to strengthen the muscles they use to walk. Therapeutic riding helps strengthen spinal and pelvic muscles. It exercises and strengthens many muscle groups at once. It can stretch tight or spastic muscles and often results in a decrease of muscle spasticity. Therapeutic riding increases the range of motion of the joints and improves the balance of participants. It improves the muscle tone, poise, posture, and coordination of participants.