The Human Horse Bond/ Therapeutic Riding Horse/ Benefits

The horse’s ancient bond with humans established a level of communication, (behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and relational), whereby both the horse and the human can reconstruct the content of the message sent by the other.  All horses, and that includes the therapeutic riding horse, have developed a type of functional readiness that encompasses skills like preparedness, communication, confidence, and thriving. One of horses’ reactivating mechanisms is their ability to recognize whether they are in danger from other living beings. Living in the present and living consciously, for their own security, they are astutely aware and mindful of what is happening in every moment of time.  (Shkedi, 2003)

Therapeutic riding horses, being in the present, encourage the  rider to be focused and mindful at all times. They are able to do this because of their natural disposition towards humans, and their adept ability to accept humans into their herds and connect cross species. When asked, horses show that they are able to participate in any activity or therapy that will benefit any challenged individual.  This might be ground based activities, horseback riding and hippo-therapy.  

When a therapeutic riding horse is well cared for and has received sufficient experience and expert training, they allow themselves to even perform activities that are against their natural instincts. For example, when working with a physically disabled person, they will  accept standing in claustrophobic spaces, have people lowered onto their backs, and move with someone on their back who,through no fault of their own, is unable to synchronize their body movement with them.

To become an effective therapeutic riding horse, the horse must  be well cared for, and kept fit, so that they can perform their job without being harmed. They need regular feeding, water, and shelter, and the opportunity to have time to relax with other horses in the herd.

The benefits of therapeutic riding have been recognized for many years since the time of Hippocrates, and the Greek civilization. Today, any Equine Assisted Activities and/or Therapy (EAA/T) can be tailored to meet an individual’s needs and treatment level. One of the most useful and positive EAA/T activities is therapeutic horseback riding, as it is particularly creative and motivates challenged individuals very quickly when they are sitting astride a horse. Riding a moving horse reawakens the mind, body, and soul. It demands fast automatic thinking that is emotional and instinctive. It builds body coordination and movement that become intuitive while the rider attempts to learn new tasks which can benefit someone with a wide range of needs.  When challenged individuals practice new skills and learn new paradigms, it is possible to feel the full effect of making these fast judgments that provide positive physical, psychological, social, and educational experiences. 

 Therapeutic riding horses never fail to connect even when they are interrupted. They are always in the present which means that they are able to constantly “listen” to the rider and react accordingly.  With this kind of sensitivity and immediacy of reaction, a non-verbal pressure is put on all individuals to acquire self-control and self-regulation.

For challenged individuals to learn horseback riding skills are complete and complex tasks that requires a person to absorb themself, put their mind, body and soul into the activity to succeed.

The benefits of therapeutic riding  have been recognized for a long time. Practitioners, partnering with a therapeutic riding horse, can have a major impact upon the challenged individual.  Therapeutic riding horses are incredible animals that provide connections and activities that are holistic, and have the power to repair, reestablish and rebuild a person’s mind, body and soul.


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