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Theraputic Horseback Riding

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Therapeutic Riding is a form of exercise or therapy with a horse or pony in which the participant's physical and emotional interaction with the animal results in positive sometimes-profound benefits.  Does it cure anything?  No.  Can it change lives?  Absolutely.  How do you know?  The children’s smile says it all.

It turns out the gait or motion of a walking or trotting horse closely mirrors the movements involved in human walking and running.  Many participants who may have limited mobility, muscle or nerve damage, cerebral palsey, other neuromuscular impairments, or cognitive disabilities can get outdoors and participate in an activity that uses entire muscle groups that may not otherwise be activated. The muscles surrounding the central core, the abdominals, back and major leg muscles in particular are strengthened as the rider naturally, or with assistance, adjusts his or her posture to maintain balance.  To demonstrate this point: If you've ever ridden a horse for an hour and you're not used to it, you will be sore for a couple of days, in places where you didn’t know you had muscles.  It’s by engaging these muscles and the surrounding muscle groups and nerve endings - in ways that may not otherwise be possible - that strengthening and other physical benefits are achieved.

There’s a growing body of research surrounding the therapeutic nature of the human to animal bond.  The cognitive and psychological benefits gained from equestrian activities result in part from the horse acting as one giant bio-feedback mechanism. Put simply, learning to interact in a positive manner with your horse requires skills like sequencing, patience, empathy, clear communication and the development of a certain calmness which can translate into improved social interactions and enhanced self control.

The self-confidence gained from learning to handle and ride a large powerful animal while gaining it’s trust and respect creates obvious benefits as the child grows to respect her own abilities.  Children and young adults with cognitive disabilities ranging from ADHD, Aspergers, autism, mental retardation, Down syndrome or behavioral issues can achieve a higher quality of life, and acquire important communication and life skills through therapeutic riding.  Getting outdoors in a beautiful setting and participating in an activity like horseback riding also happens to be a lot of fun!

Where can you find a therapeutic riding center? There are just a few locations in Massachusetts.  Hingham is lucky to have Triumph Therapeutic Riding Center located at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it in Hingham Centre.

 



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