Benefits for Riders
Physical benefits for all riders may include improved balance, coordination, sensory integration and increased motor planning. For a rider with CP muscles may be relaxed and stretched resulting in decreased spasticity. The muscles of a rider with hypotonia will be strengthened thus improving posture. There could be an increase in the range of motion for certain joints as well as improved respiration and circulation.
Social benefits for a rider who has Autism could be an increase in socially appropriate behaviors, an increase in patience and the development of respect and friendship for animals and other human beings. The riders will also interact with the instructor and the volunteer(s) assisting them, giving the benefit of developing good listening and communication skills.
Cognitive benefits for a rider with global developmental delays would be to achieve an increase in attention span, an increase in the ability to follow directions and as well an increase in visual and spatial perception. Memory can be improved as well as sequencing skills.
Riders will be able to enjoy trail rides that take them through the forest and up and down small hills, over grass, gravel, concrete, sand, mud and water. They may ride on a warm sunny day, get caught in a short rain, or be out on a breezy day. All of these sensations add to the overall experience of connecting with nature.
All riders could experience emotional benefits via a sense of achievement and the ability to take risks. Riding provides persons with disabilities a sense of normalcy, as this is an activity which most any person can take part in. Riding can be highly motivating for some individuals and great for increasing self-confidence. It is a fun and enjoyable way to have "therapy" in a non-therapeutic setting. The horses are the therapy equipment and their movement affects each rider in a positive, non-clinical manner.