What is Therapeutic Riding?

Therapeutic Riding is a widely accepted method of improving the physical and mental well-being of people with special needs.

Riding provides general exercise, recreation and sense of achievement. In addition, riding provides independence from artificial aids such as crutches and wheelchairs, allowing access over uneven ground and into fields and forest where new sights, sounds and smells stimulate the senses.

Therapeutic Riding is taught by instructors who have passed rigorous training through CANTRA (Canadian Therapy Riding Association), or the American equivalent. These instructors concentrate on personal engagement through games, strength and flexibility exercises.

The aims of therapeutic riding include:

  • balance improvement
  • coordination development
  • mobilization of stiff joints
  • development of weak muscles
  • prevention of contractures
  • improved circulation
  • relaxation of spasticity
  • increased self-esteem and independence
  • improved learning
  • concentration
  • spatial awareness
  • overall relaxation of the body and the mind

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These aims are achieved as the rider experiences the rhythmic swinging motions of the horse as the horse is led around the arena, pastures and trails of the farm.

Common disabilities suitable for therapeutic riding lessons:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Arthritis
  • Limb Absence
  • Scoliosis
  • Spina Bifida
  • Epilepsy
  • Brain Injury
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Dwarfism
  • Blindness
  • Hearing and speech impediments
  • Challenging social or emotional conditions
  • Learning Disabilities

This is not a complete list. If you wish to learn more, please contact VTEA and the staff will be glad to get you the information you need!

A poem that sums up what our program is all about.

I CAN

I cannot walk or run or play a game of tennis every day
I cannot dance or ride a bike, I’ll never know what skating’s like
I have no soccer boots or ball, they are no use to me at all
I’ll never ski the waves or snow, so many thrills I’ll never know

I’ll never sail the wind or surf, or chase a ball across the turf
Nor climb the snow capped peaks above, so many things I long to love
But I Can ride through forest trails and view the fox and rabbit’s tails
And watch the geese and ducks in flight while leaping stags and deer take fright

And I Can follow mountain tracks past climbers weighted down with packs
And trace a river to it’s source above the clouds and feel the force
Yes I enjoy the “Sport of Kings”, when carried high my feet take wings
To fly me on a pleasure course, for I CAN mount and ride a horse!

by John A. Davies