Cerebral Palsy and Therapeutic Riding

Image by A_Different_Perspective from Pixabay

Therapeutic riding serves people with almost any physical, emotional, cognitive, or behavioral disability. I could keep this series going all year and probably barely scratch the surface of who therapeutic riding benefits. I decided to focus on these five disabilities because they are some of the most common needs we serve in the therapeutic riding industry.

We will wrap up this series talking about cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a blanket term for disorders that affect a person’s ability to move. People with CP may struggle to maintain balance and posture, may have difficulty with fine motor skills, and may have muscle weaknesses. This is where horseback riding can help, as long as the client does not have a contraindication to mounted work.

I will probably mention this on the blog upwards of 100 times but the equilateral movement of the horse is the biggest benefit of therapeutic riding. The even gait that propels the hips forward, backward, and side-to-side replicates the natural movement of a person’s hips. Over time, this repeated movement can train the hips to move correctly which positively impacts a person’s stride on the ground.

Horseback riding is a full body workout that requires core strength, leg strength, and arm strength. Clients with CP can benefit from much of the work we do in a therapeutic riding lesson like crossing the body, stretching down to toes or up to sky, and whoa and walk on. Even just riding around the arena is a workout because the core and legs will be engaged to maintain balance.

Therapeutic riding works on fine motor skills. Holding the reins and/or the mane requires fine motor skills, as do many of the games we play. Placing rings on cones, holding balls, clothespinning ribbons on a mane, etc. are all examples of games that work on fine motor skills. Therapeutic riding lessons provide endless opportunities to enhance fine motor skills and that benefit can be taken off the horse and in to life.

I hope you enjoyed this series. It was fun to write and research and I hope it was helpful as well. I would love your feedback so feel free to email me, or leave a comment below!

Further questions? Leave a comment below!

One thought on “Cerebral Palsy and Therapeutic Riding

  1. Debbie May 25, 2020 / 4:44 pm

    Great and informative articles , Lena! I can’t wait for lessons to start up this week!


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