4STEPS Therapeutic Riding Program
5367 Sixty Foot Road Parsonsburg MD 21849 410-835-8814 firstname.lastname@example.org
Benefits of Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT)
Equine activities offer a wide variety of therapeutic benefits to participants living with mental or physical disability. These benefits may be categorized as physical, psychological and social in nature.
'Therapeutic horseback riding improves the strength, tone, flexibility, and reflexes of postural muscles and leg muscles, thereby increasing stability of gait and balance in people with mild to moderate mobility disabilities. Those with more severe disabilities benefit from improved balance, coordination, and postural control essential to healthy respiratory and digestive function. Weekly riding sessions exercise and improve diaphragmatic and core muscle groups, eye and hand coordination and socialization and communication skills. Participation in un-mounted activities increases physical activity levels even for clients with limited mobility. These physical benefits contribute to the maintenance of independent lifestyles in individuals recovering from injury or living with disability.
Individuals recovering from injury or living with disability need to be engaged in healthy, supportive relationships to help enhance their sense of self-confidence and autonomy, and to cope effectively with the challenges of their circumstances. Horses, by their very nature, are animals who rely on cooperation, connection and relationship building as seen in herd behavior. They require the cultivation of mutual trust and respect, patience and compassion, assertiveness and sensitivity, focus and perseverance. Horses, like people, respond positively in relationships characterized by these elements. As clients practice the use of these skills horses respond in kind rewarding and reinforcing clients’ development of healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms. These skills and qualities contribute to clients’ ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships with family members and friends and helps develop an overall sense of self-confidence and autonomy; all of which enhance the individual’s ability to cope with practically any challenge life offers.
Many who are recovering from injury or living with disability have limited opportunity for social interaction due to multiple factors including transportation, financial restrictions, and health issues. Decreased levels of social interaction and engagement have been shown to contribute to depression, self-neglect, a sense of loneliness and low self-esteem. At 4STEPS, our natural setting, our compassionate staff and volunteers and our fabulous horses create a space providing both physical and emotional safety. Clients are stimulated and find themselves interacting and engaging with volunteers, instructors, horse-handlers, other clients, and the horses themselves. Moreover, volunteers and clients vary in ages, providing enjoyable social interaction and the opportunity for participants to make new friends and expand their social network.