Therapeutic horseback riding is used to teach riding skills to people with disabilities. Therapeutic riding is beneficial to children and adults who present with any of a wide range of cognitive, physical and/or emotional conditions.
In a Therapeutic Riding or Equine Assisted Activities program, a specially trained and certified riding instructor teaches persons with disabilities the skills necessary to becoming a horseman. However, the equestrian environment can provide more than just riding skills. Skills learned include companionship, responsibility, leadership, vocational and educational, as well as offering competition venues in the different horseback riding disciplines. Riding a horse provides a unique and often profound recreational or leisure activity for many people.
Students interacting with horses may carry this experience beyond the riding arena. Building a relationship with an animal is rewarding in many aspects. Riding helps to empower people and enables them to connect on a personal level. For a person with an emotional, social or psychological disability, the trust and loyalty of an animal demonstrates to the student how important they are, providing a basis from which the student can extend these attributes to inter-personal relationships.
Horses also help people feel in control of their situation due to a direct correlation between action and reaction. To learn how to care for and ride a horse, a student must be able to communicate effectively with the horse and the instructor. In this way, riding is a very social activity, but is less daunting to people who are uncomfortable in social situations.
Also, the sometimes unpredictable nature of animals creates a real-life environment in which students will be able to confront fears and adjust to situations beyond their control.
Information from Wikipedia here.
NARHA has changed to PATH
The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) now PATH - Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemen is a non-profit organization based in Denver, Colorado that promotes awareness of the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding for people with physical, emotional and learning disabilities.
PATH was formed in 1969 and since its inception has ensured that therapeutic riding is both safe and accesible to all of those desiring equine assisted therapy. In over 700 member centers, almost 40,000 children and adults nationwide find a sense of independence through involvement with horses. Utilizing a wide variety of educational resources, training programs, continuing education seminars and hands-on workshops, PATH is dedicated to helping interested individuals start and maintain successful therapeutic riding programs.There are currently over 29,000 volunteers, 1,900 instructors and 5,800 program equines from all over the world making a difference in people’s lives at PATH centers.
Today, PATH provides opportunities for people with varying ability levels to challenge themselves physically and emotionally and to set goals to improve their quality of life through a growing number of equine assisted activities, including recreational riding, driving, vaulting, competitions and other educational equine interactions. Training professionals to support and facilitate this process, educating the public about the positive impact of the human/animal bond and setting national standards for safe and effective equine assisted activities are part of PATH's long-range goals.
www.pathintl.org for more info.
Healing Hoofbeats, Inc. is the only PATH Member Center in Bay and surrounding counties.
Information from Wikipedia here.