Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding

horseback riding

The Benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding By J. Foley

Horseback riding, besides being a very enjoyable sport, is also a therapeutic solution to many physical and mental problems. Horses have been used for treating injured soldiers during World War 1 and even Olympic medals have been won by severely paralyzed people competing on horseback. Of late, the therapeutic riding programs are being used for treatment of children suffering from physical, emotional or psychological disabilities. Even children with Autism get relief due to the rhythmic motion of the horse that gives the necessary sensory stimulation.

Benefits of Horseback Riding
The benefits of therapeutic horseback riding include enhanced balance, posture, muscle tone, coordination and confidence. It is particularly helpful in stretching the muscles and even those muscles that are not frequently used, get toned up.

Therapeutic horseback riding is an alternate therapy that is beneficial for people of all ages and there are thousands of equine assisted therapy programs available throughout the world.
The therapeutic benefits of riding also include hippotherapy in which the horse is used as a tool and equine based psychotherapy is employed for therapeutic benefits. The other physical disabilities that benefit from therapeutic riding include cerebral palsy, muscular dystropy, multiple sclerosis, paralysis, amputation and spina bifida.

Horseback riding is very helpful in improving balance and posture as these attributes are essential for riders. Students can especially benefit by achieving balance while riding the horse as the motion created by the horse is the same as the one created by the human pelvis. The connection between the rider and the horse gives rise to building up the balance and improving the posture in the rider. The balance exercises can be of different types including sitting on the horse, walking, trotting, grabbing rings at the time of riding, stretching arms or keeping eyes closed while riding and riding backwards. The physical capabilities of the rider can be improved considerably with these exercises.

The muscles and joints of the body gain specifically from the riding exercises. Riding tones up most small muscles and joints as well as the back, legs, buttocks, knees, ankles and hips. Equine assisted therapy improves muscle tone and flexibility and different needs of the riders are addressed from the same motion when the skills are being learnt.

Intellectual stimulation is also achieved with riding and as such disorders such as autism, mental retardation, brain damage, developmental disorders, dyslexia and learning disabilities can be treated with horseback riding therapy.

Riding is demanding but it is also very relaxing with wonderful therapeutic benefits.

horseback riding
Article Written By J. Foley