How to Discipline in Lessons: Horses

Disciplining horses in the middle of lessons is difficult. As instructors, we don’t want to show our riders negative behavior from us or point out negative behavior in our horses. I believe the best way to discipline a horse is to eliminate the problem through training, stress elimination, and positive reinforcement but that mostly takes place outside of lessons. I want to share how I discipline in lessons, but please know that this is my personal way of doing things and is not meant to be construed as the only way or the best way.

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How to Work on Balance

Horseback riding is all about balance. Staying centered and balanced on the horse makes it easier to stay on if a horse spooks, takes a misstep, or does something unexpected. Balanced riders also keep their horses content. Think of a backpack on your back. If it’s sliding to one side, you are constantly shrugging your shoulder to center the bag. The horse feels the same way with an off-center rider.

In therapeutic riding, many riders struggle with balanced, centered riding so how do we work on it in lessons to make our clients better riders and our horses more content?

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Toys & Equipment

Therapeutic riding is an alternative therapeutic option that uses the horse to provide clients with a unique experience. The bare necessities for therapeutic riding are an instructor, a horse, and a client. However, there are some typical toys and equipment that most therapeutic riding centers (TRC) or places that offer adaptive riding will have.

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What Is Hippotherapy?

Hippotherapy uses horseback riding as a form of treatment for clients under the supervision of an occupational therapist (OT), physical therapist (PT), or speech-language pathologist (SLP). The natural gait and movement of the horse provides motor and sensory input that cannot be replicated in a therapy classroom.

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Precautions and Contraindications

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Precautions and contraindications are an important consideration of equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). Precautions are concerns that need to be further investigated by talking to a physician, mental health professional, or therapist who treats the client. Contraindications mean that the activity is inappropriate.

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