IF WISHES WERE HORSES

SPECIAL NEEDS THERAPEUTIC RIDING PROGRAM
FOR CHILDREN

at FLEET EQUESTRIAN CENTER, LLC

FORMS THAT MUST BE COMPLETED BEFORE RIDING CAN BEGIN

FORMS

SPECIAL NEEDS THERAPEUTIC RIDING PROGRAM
Disabilities that usually signal that  a child needs to be in a one-on-one or small group setting with 1 to 3 volunteers assisting the child to ride.
Or that they will be coming with a school or activity group for larger volunteer guided sessions.*

Some disabilities need small group or one-on-one instruction.  Most of the Special Needs riders that we work with are School and Activity Groups from the community.
When we are able to, we do take on Special Needs riders on a weekly basis.

Availability for Special Needs lesson are limited to: 1. the number of volunteers available to
help with each child - 1-3 volunteers needed per child, 2. age of the child and their individual needs. 
Therefore, scheduling can limit the ability to take on new students at any given time.
We reserve the right to refuse service to any rider for any reason.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THERAPEUTIC RIDING FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS?

The most unique thing about this therapy is the gentle, rhythmic movement of the horse itself.  The horse and human have a similar three-dimensional gait.  When a horse moves, it simulates the normal sensory-motor input of walking and triggers the brain and neurological system maintaining flexibility of the legs and hips, thereby helping to prevent atrophy of the walking muscles.   Individuals with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength.  For individuals with mental or emotional disabilities horses offer a unique bonding relationship that leads to increased confidence, patience, self-awareness, and self-esteem.  Horseback riding often crosses into all three categories being: physical, metal, and emotional and benefits are exciting and  astounding. 

Therapeutic horseback riding is a great equalizer amongst riders of all abilities  It highlights what a disabled person can do, instead of what they are unable to do, minimizing limitations by allowing the rider to become quite normalized while on the horse.  Riders must learn to control their horse and often work in groups, inspiring responsibility and teamwork.

Being able to control such a large animal, increases self confidence and self-esteem in participants.  The new found encouragement and pride can spill over into other areas of riders' lives.   Thus creating a window for individuals to believe that they can try other challenging things, and that they can be successful.  It gives riders a sense of accomplishment and improves their overall level of emotional well-being, even reducing stress levels.

Not only does therapeutic riding help on with basic levels of well-being, it is also an opportunity to learn that can actually improve remedial math, language, and reading skills. Games played while on horseback teach riders letters, different colors, shapes, and sizes and counting games teach math, while the rider works at different stations, identifying numbers and amounts around the ring.

OTHER BENEFITS

* Improves participants' sequencing, patterning, and motor planning skills.

* Improves visual/spatial perception and hand-eye coordination.

* Improves sensory integration and concentration

* improves walking for individuals who may never have walked before or are learning again.

* Strengthens spinal and pelvic muscles.

* Stretches tight or spastic muscles and often results in a decrease of muscle spasticity.

*  Increases the range of motion, balance, flexibility, and joint mobility

* Improves the muscle tone, trunk control, posture, and coordination 

* Increases fine motor skills

 * Improves cognitive skills, speech and language skills

Working with children with special needs is a great privilege that touches my heart.  I received my NARHA (now PATH Intl.) certification in June 2007 so that I could be of service to children in the area.  In addition to my NARHA certification, I have a degree in Art Education from Winthrop University and am currently working towards my RN degree.  I have also taught horseback riding lessons since I was 15 years old, which luckily has given me a lot of practice. 

To conduct a special needs therapeutic riding class:
Each rider can need up to 3 volunteers to safely participate in a riding class.  A leader and 2 side walkers are used to ensure rider safety.  Also, riders interested in participating must fill out forms and get a doctor's approval  to make sure it is safe to ride.  Forms may be dropped off at your child's doctor's office and usually picked up within 48 hours.

If you have a child or group  that is interested in riding, please email me so I can put them on a list and send out forms that must be completed.  All children with special needs must be evaluated before they can be considered to be placed in the program.

There is a 200 lb Weight Limit.