THERAPEUTIC HORSEBACK RIDING
The main program offered is therapeutic horseback riding. We offer mounted and unmounted instruction to children and adults with physical or mental challenges. The mounted instruction includes the participant leaning how to properly mount the horse, control the horse, and develop a basic balanced position while riding. During the riding lesson the riders will develop riding skills while increasing muscle tone and increasing a sense of mastery. The unmounted instruction includes learning to halter, lead, groom and tack up the horse. During the unmounted instruction the participant develops skills that improve communication, socialization and balance. While participating they will gain a sense of control and confidence.
People/Families with People with Disabilities / People/Families with of People with Psychological Disabilities/Children and Youth (0 – 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success
Increases in physical strength, flexibility and balance may improve after the client participates for 8 or more one hour sessions. Empirical research is limited, but indications in studies do show effectiveness in the program within 6 – 12 sessions of mounted instruction.
Program Long – Term Success
Children and adults will learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses. Participants may increase physical strength and flexibility, reduce intensity of distress, improve GAF scores, increase psychological well-being, and improve positive behaviors while reducing negative behaviors. There may also be an increase in the ability to communicate, and positive changes in social acceptance and conduct.
Program Success Monitored By
Program success in documented with an initial intake packet which includes questions pertaining to the participants current limitations and expectations of the program. Progress notes are kept to measure success and each lesson has a measurable objective. Goals are set for each student and reviewed bi-annually.
Examples of Program Success
A client’s mother shared with us her testimony on the programs success for her daughter. The doctors told this mother that her daughter would never walk and may never speak. The mother had tried all types of therapy for her daughter but they seemed unsuccessful and her daughter would always protest going. This mother then called a therapeutic riding program and although she was reluctant to put her then 5 year old daughter on a horse she was willing to try something new. Her daughter was interested right away with the horses and had an instant bond. The mother could not believe how her daughter took to the horses. Her daughter started with a leader and two side walkers. In a matter of a few months her daughter started walking on her own two feet and climbed up the steps to mount the horse. Within a year her daughter was guiding a horse all by herself and had started trotting. At the end of two years of therapeutic riding her daughter was riding independently, at the walk, trot and canter. Her mother is still concerned about her being on such a large animal and can’t bear to watch when her daughter asks if she can go over the jumps. Yes, now she is jumping over low cross-rails with a huge smile on her face. I don’t know whether this progress would have happened without horses in this child’s life, but watching her run and play games with others on her own two feet is something no one expected for this little girl. It has been a pleasure to watch her grow and mature and I look forward to seeing where the horseback riding will take her next.
As the President and Founder of Rising Star Riders, I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved in our 12 years of providing services in our community to children and adults with disabilities. I am confident in our ability to overcome the challenges we face in offering our program to the community.
One challenge is to raise enough money each year in order to offer the service for a nominal fee and to have enough money to provide the best feed and veterinary care to the animals we entrust with our participants. This is a service that I wish I could offer at no fee for all participants because I truly believe that every child should have an opportunity to be out in the fresh air, in nature, and experience the true gift of the horse. We are seeking grants and larger fundraising opportunities to address our financial needs. One of our goals is to increase the number of participants in the program from 15 riders to 30 riders in the next year.
We have added two more therapy horses to the program and will be adding another instructor. We will be providing training and certification. Our fundraising efforts will need to increase and we will be seeking additional board members to assist with this effort.
Why do we care about this program and what is so unique about using horses?
Horses offer participants an opportunity to resolve physical, emotional and behavioral challenges. The horse offers an experience unmatched by any other therapy in a joyous social environment. Interacting with the horses has been shown to increase client motivation and can increase self-esteem and self-confidence.
Horses are non-judgmental and allow the participants to interact with another being unconditionally. Watching a small child control a 1,000 pound animal while smiling and giggling is one of the most rewarding experiences. There are several overall benefits for the riders and the volunteers and I believe that all of us are healing each and every day we participate in the program. I am honored and blessed to be a part of such a wonderful organization.
President of Rising Star Riders