Therapeutic horsemanship relates specifically to partnering with the horse in therapeutic riding lessons, working on horsemanship skills with horses in the barn or stable, and competition.
There are many terms in use today for the activity that was originally called therapeutic riding. There are two terms widely used today -- equine assisted activities and equine assisted therapy. Equine assisted therapy is performed by licensed credentialed medical or mental health professions within their specialties: hippotherapy, equine facilitated mental health and psychotherapy. Equine assisted activities are performed by instructors certified within their specialties: therapeutic riding, interactive vaulting, driving, equine experiential learning, and sport/competition coaching.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THERAPEUTIC HORSEMANSHIP?
In recent years, the benefits of therapeutic riding have gained worldwide recognition. The rhythmical, repeatable, 3-dimensional and symmetrical movement of the horse provide numerous physical benefits such as:
Increase or reduce muscle tone
Improve balance and coordination
Promote low impact exercise
The ability to be mobile; the ability to bond and partner with the non-judgmental horse; and, the possibility of independence, when working with or riding horses, provide many emotional and cognitive benefits such as:
Ability to organize thoughts and body movements
Increased attention span
Development of speech
Opportunity to compete in a sport
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM THERAPEUTIC HORSEMANSHIP?
Participants in therapeutic horsemanship programs range in age from young children to seniors. Individual programs may limit who can participate based on program-specific policies such as: age limits, weight limits, ability to sit upright with minimal support or specialization in specific disabilities. Therapeutic horsemanship may benefit people with a wide range of physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities including, but not limited to: