Throughout the world, horseback riding is considered a uniquely beneficial form of therapy for individuals living with disabilities. A horse's gait, similar to the human walk, helps strengthen spine and pelvic muscles, improves posture and coordination, and increases joint mobility. Whether being ridden or driven, horses allow people living with disabilities to travel with ease to places wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers cannot take them.
Beyond the tangible benefits, horseback riding grants a newfound freedom. Riding a horse presents a combination of new sounds and sensations. Whether the disability is physical, cognitive, behavioral, or emotional, the individual's accomplishments of mounting and riding provide a tremendous boost to confidence and self worth.
Individuals with cognitive disabilities benefit from the discipline and concentration required to master riding on and relating to horses. This special bond and personal growth can help these individuals to think, dream, and perceive of themselves in new ways.
Any person with a physical or cognitive disability is welcome to apply for the program. All clients receive a personal evaluation from a program instructor and a physical or occupational therapist, who continue to monitor progress and develop plans for further improvement. Classes are conducted by NARHA certified instructors who are assisted by volunteers. Clients are placed in classes based on their age, riding experience, and then disability.
We Can Ride's current and future objectives include:
We Can Ride educates the community through presentations made to local organizations and service groups. Demonstrations at major equine events allow the opportunity to introduce therapeutic riding and carriage driving to the public. We also utilize public service announcements and newspaper articles to further promote therapeutic riding.
Hippotherapy means therapy with the help of the horse. In this program, a credentialed physical or occupational therapist works one-on-one with the client to reach traditional therapy goals without teaching specific riding skills. The therapist works with a certified instructor to create the type of movements from the horse to meet the specific treatment goals. Trained volunteers also help with balance and postural corrections. Our goal for all Hippotherapy riders is to transfer into regular therapeutic riding classes.
Early Childhood Classes are for children two years through five years of age with varying disabilities. These classes are taught by NARHA Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors with help from our therapists. Riding in small groups of one to three to prepare our clients for school activities. Lessons include improving social, verbal, physical skills, sensory integration, and more. As the children make new ,friends and play games on horseback they don't realize that they are improving their coordination, balance, motor planning, muscle strength and much more. We find that these children are motivated to work hard at what appears to be play.
Carriage Driving involves teens and adults who may not be a good fit for riding or who would benefit from the freedom and fun of driving a horse. These classes are taught by NARHA Certified Driving Instructors with help from a therapist. The client sits beside the 'whip' who is a trained, experienced instructor or volunteer. The client holds reins attached to a special halter and the 'whip' holds reins attached to the horse's bit to enable them to take over if needed. Working at the walk and trot, both indoor and outside help clients feel the freedom and confidence of being independent. Our carriages have hydraulic lifts for most wheelchairs.
Equine Assisted Therapeutic Riding is for individuals from six years old to 70 years young. These classes are taught by NARHA Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors with the help of our therapists. Along with the many therapeutic benefits of being on a moving horse, our goals are to teach horsemanship skills. Clients may also learn to groom, lead, saddle, and mount their horses. These riders may also go on to compete in Special Olympics. Class sizes are from three to six and include the use of one to three volunteers per client.