In this program, we teach riding but our principal goal is therapy, not recreation.
With the assistance of their instructor, lessons start with the rider learning to
lead the pony or horse. The rider then assists with grooming (i.e. brushing) to the
ability they have and can develop. They carry their own saddle or blanket or girth,
depending upon their ability at that time, and help saddle their pony or horse. We
have found that this participation becomes a very important part of the lesson to
our riders. Those with cognitive disabilities learn sequencing, two step task execution,
following instructions, and work-reward. They also develop a stronger bond with their
pony or horse. This develops empathy which is extremely important with our riders
diagnosed with autism. Many of our riders look forward to this element as much as
they do their riding lesson. The leading, grooming, and saddling portion of the lesson
usually lasts approximately 15 minutes.
For our younger riders, at least one of the parents is required to be a side walker
for their child. We require this because we believe parents are the world's expert
on their child. They assist the rider up the ramp and with the horse or pony, where
over time we work to have the rider become self-sufficient with the horse or pony.
This provides a greater sense of control and pride in being able to do most of the
mount on their own. According to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Study, the incorporation of the parent in the lesson is the main ingredient for the
transfer of the intervention at Haven Horse Ranch to the home environment.
The ridden portion of the lesson starts in our corral, lead by the instructor and
protected by one or two side walkers, depending upon their needs. As the lesson progresses
and the child begins developing balance, we provide exercises and riding development
in a very small ring, in which the pony or horse is controlled by the instructor
using a rope called a lunge line. Over time when the rider develops sufficient balance,
we begin to have the side walker step aside in the ring so that the rider will develop
stronger balance, and with this development, safe riding skills.
With safety methods paramount, we proceed in methods and tested steps to develop the rider's balance and horsemanship skills. It is our goal to eventually have each of our riders be independent, under controlled conditions.
The ridden portion of the lesson is designed to last 30 minutes, with shorter times
for our smallest and beginning riders, and longer times for our more advanced riders.
Following the ridden portion, the rider leads the horse or pony to the barn and assists
in unsaddling, grooming, rewarding the pony with a carrot (this is a favorite part)
and putting away the pony.
Why Choose Therapeutic Riding?
The movement of the horse or pony stimulates the rider's vestibular system (inner ear) which not only controls balance, but all voluntary movement of the body, including speech. Half way through the lesson, our students who have an under-stimulated vestibular system (one form of sensory integration dysfunction) become more active vocally and in body movement. Riders also learn vital skills such as: following instructions, focusing, task sequence, participation and self-confidence.
If you would like to make a donation to our therapy program, please click here.
It’s about so much more than riding a horse!
|Buy a Brick|
|Support in Action|
|Not How the Story Ends...|
|Time of Our Lives|
|It's About More Than Riding|
|Together, Anything is Possible|
|Students in Free Enterprise|
|Children with Autism|