Riding a horse teaches new skills


Learning new skills is always a challenge, but riding a horse presents extra dimensions because the horse is a highly sensitive, emotional being with enormous strength and athletic ability. He will not be dominated by the physical strength of the rider. Therefore, in order to ride a horse successfully and safely, the rider must exercise discipline of mind and body and develop tact, empathy and patience. Herein lies the first and also never-ending challenge for every rider, disabled and able-bodied alike.

therapy riding 1Riding promotes an active response from the rider, improving balance and coordination


The horse’s walk is three dimensional – forward and back, side to side, up and down. This multi dimensional movement results in rotation similar to the pattern of movement of the human walk. Mounted on the horse, the rider’s weight is taken by his seat – i.e. the pelvis and not the legs, so that the muscles which the horse’s walk activates on the rider’s body are the very  same muscles  that would be used if the rider himself were to walk. Hence the enormous value of the horse in stimulating the vestibular system, which works closely with the proprio-ceptual system, encouraging balance and equilibrium reactions leading to body and spatial awareness of the most beneficial kind.  No other therapy can provide this level of involuntary adjustment response in the rider in such a short time frame  – roughly 1000 random movements every 10 minutes.  Relaxation is achieved through the combination of the warmth and energy of the horse’s body and the soothing, rhythmic movement.

The vestibular system is essential in providing the ability to stand against gravity i.e. to stand up. Therefore the 3 dimensional movement experience improves balance, co-ordination and posture. It improves the quality of body movement generally, increases spatial awareness and symmetry, which in turn  leads to greater emotional well-being.

Riding develops self-discipline and improved self-esteem


Interaction with the therapy horse allows the rider to discover the natural consequences of his actions in a non-judgemental and safe environment. The horse responds to the rider with consistent clarity and honesty. As the rider is allowed to experiment within these natural boundaries, he or she develops decision making skills, which subsequently greatly empower him in all aspects of his life.

Riding Promotes independence and encourages decision making


One of the effects of disability is the isolation that it brings for the individual not only from a practical point of view, but in particular psychologically. Learning takes place through our sensory experience in relationships with others and through our environment. This experience is denied in many ways to those who are disabled. It results in lack of confidence, poor communication skills and difficulty with interpersonal relationships and social interaction.

Riding provides a new and exciting way for disabled people to perform interesting motor tasks.  Stimulation of the sensory system breaks the cycle of low performance in most disabilities. For example, following traumatic head injury, this motivation helps to improve concentration, body awareness, sequential order and a sense of direction, as patients return to making judgements and decisions. “The wish to ride a horse challenges the deepest centre in the brain” (Anita Shkedi).

therapy riding 2Riding encourages communication and social skills


The horse encourages communication. Many examples have been recorded of children who have never spoken, starting to speak as a result of riding a horse, largely through the stimulation of the vestibular system. Relationship building is an unforced process, since riders generally seek a relationship with the horse, and this is reciprocated by the horse at subtle as well as more obvious levels. Hence, what is often the first relationship with a stranger is formed, and this can open the door for more desire and ability to interact with fellow humans.

In Conclusion


The horse provides pleasure, fun, interest, physical stimulation, challenge, goals and repetition, which are all factors conducive to learning. The risk factor of riding is “key” to learning, as a valuable means of increasing attention span and challenging the rider.

The horse provides the stimulus which revitalises human lives because he takes us back to our roots,  to nature, to movement, to heart based communication and to a challenge and adventure which is not dependent on brute strength, but is based on love, respect and mutual understanding.

If you would like to ride with us, please read further and submit a preliminary application, so that we may contact you once a suitable place becomes available.

Although riding is extremely beneficial in many cases, there ARE instances where it is contra–indicated. Please refer to the page on contra indications for a detailed, but not exhaustive compilation of these. We would like to point out, that final acceptance into our riding programme is at the discretion of our instructors.

Click here to fill out our online Rider Application Form (RAF)

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