Goals are developed with input from parents/ clients / therapists... but the following are a few of the common elements that are worked into the overall goal of teaching the client riding and / or horsemanship skills.
- Safety: During all times, activities will be conducted in a manner that is as safe as possible for the student, horse and volunteers. The UNH Therapeutic Riding Program is a Premier accredited program of PATH Intl and follows strict procedures for conducting lessons in a safe environment.
- Strength & flexibility: The student will conduct certain physical tasks as a part of riding therapy that will aid in developing general physical fitness.
- Balance and Rhythm: Students will experience stimulation of the inner ear through the natural movement of the horse thereby improving his/ her balance and rhythm. The natural walking movement of the horse stimulates muscles and sensor systems that mimic the natural walking movements of the student and can aid in the students development in walking.
- Spatial organization: The student will develop the ability to move and direct the horse within a given area and will understand & respond appropriately to right, left, up, down, forward and backward.
- Sensory awareness: The student will develop sensory awareness and integration from both the stimuli elicited by the horse and through the challenge of executing specific motor tasks.
- Comprehension: The student will develop the ability to use judgment and reasoning in riding and working with the horse and related equipment.
- Time and sequence: The student will develop an awareness of time concepts and will develop the ability to perform tasks in sequential order.
- Cognitive development: The student will further his / her knowledge of the alphabet, counting and mathematics as well as horsemanship where appropriate.
- Confidence and self-esteem: The student is interacting with a large animal who is responsive to them and who they can be in control of. This raises their self-esteem and confidence which can transfer outside of the riding arena.
Therapeutic Riding Program's Class Offerings
Therapeutic Horsemanship (Grooming) Classes: This class is great for those who aren't quite ready to get on the horse yet or for those whom riding is contraindicated. The focus is on getting comfortable being around horses. Participants will have the opportunity to groom, lead, saddle and bridle the horse as well as learn the correct nomenclature for common horse terms including the horse anatomy. Classes are 45 minutes long, once a week, and are offered at various times each session. Fee charged, ($100-$135 per 5-8 week session).
Therapeutic Riding: These classes are conducted on horseback and are tailored around the physical, emotional and cognitive needs of the student. Wherever possible classes are arranged around the age and riding level of the students and generally incorporate a period for stretching and physical movement as well as games and activities. The class is conducted primarily at the walk with some students trotting if appropriate. All students start with 2 sidewalkers and a leader. Leaders and sidewalkers are removed if and when the student has demonstrated adequate balance and control of the horse to warrant so. Classes are 45 minutes long, once a week, and are offered at various times each session. Fee charged, ($200- $275 per 5-8 week session).
Therapeutic Riding Program's Games
Games are conducted during most lessons in order to promote strength and flexibility, cognitive development and just to have fun! Except during grooming lessons, games are conducted primarily on horseback. Examples include the following:
- Red light, green light
- Velcro darts
- Collecting rings
- Steering through cones and figures
- Matching and counting games
- Color and cognitive games
- Spelling and reading games
- Puzzles and word finds