Equine Therapy is a type of therapy using horses as a means to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth. According to the Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) Intl., a not-for-profit group that promotes equine-assisted activities and therapies, a recent survey revealed that for the first time, 115 of the group’s 877 members reported having senior-specific programs ranging from those aimed at Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, to so-called Silver Saddle programs that teach riding skills to older equestrians.
Americans are living longer and maintaining an active lifestyle, and there are certain physical benefits from horse handling. Equine Therapy is especially beneficial to seniors. Horses have similar behaviors with humans, such as social and responsive behaviors, making it easy for patient to create a connection with the horse. Whether you are adventurous and want to get up on a horse or content to just pet one, there are many benefits horses can provide. Coordination, reflexes, and motor planning are improved through the repeated movements required in controlling a horse.
If you need help with your posture, riding a horse helps improve flexibility and strengths the core muscles, which aids if better posture. This type of therapy can also help promote healing of the neurological system after a traumatic brain injury or stroke. Seniors don’t necessarily have to ride a horse to attain the benefits these animals provide. Simply being around horses can help!
Those who feel a sense of isolation or battle depression and anxiety can benefit from the use Equine Therapy. The nice and easy movement of a horse can help to relieve stress. A patient can learn to groom, feed, and lead the horse and getting outside and serving a purpose is very therapeutic. Grooming a horse helps promote joint movement too.
If seniors are around the same horse often enough, the two will eventually build a connection that can help decrease feelings of loneliness.
Homestead Stables, on The Homestead campus in Gerry, NY, is not only a world class equestrian center which provides excellence in care and boarding of horses, but a place where ministry can be expanded to include lessons and programs for children, teens and intergenerational activities. In addition to equine educational events and programs, Homestead Stables also offers opportunities to provide therapeutic riding programs for individuals suffering from PTSD or other emotional or physical disabilities. For more information on Homestead Stables, please visit http://www.homesteadstables.org.