Hello cowboys and cowgirls! I have some exciting news to share with you! Recently, I went to a workshop to start the process for my ESMHL Certification. ESMHL stands for Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Once I finish my certification, it gives me the ability to run EAAT (equine-assisted activities and therapy) sessions in partnership with an educator and/or mental health professional.
The series continues! We’ve talked about gross motor skills and fine motor skills and how to help develop those motor skills with off horse activities. Today I want to bring the horse back in to the conversation. As horsepeople, we know that riding is only a small part of being around the horse. Feeding, bathing, hand walking, turning out, medical care, grooming, cleaning tack, and so many other tasks make up our time with horses.
If we want our riders to develop deeper relationships with the horses, what better way to do that than through grooming?
A couple of weeks ago we had our Region 10 Conference. PATH International holds an International Conference each year but each region is also encouraged to hold their own conference. The travel, time, and monetary cost is significantly less for the region conferences which makes it more accessible for everyone in the industry. There are 11 regions in PATH, represented by geography. Region 10 includes Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah.
Last week we talked about developing fine motor skills through off horse activities. Today, we are going to discuss the other main motor skills: gross motor skills. Gross motor skills help us walk, throw, catch, and balance. These motor skills form the basis for fine motor skills so it is just as important to focus on gross motor skills as fine motor skills.
Luckily, the horse helps develop gross motor skills. The balance, posture, core strength and horse movement all positively impact gross motor skills. However, today is about developing those gross motor skills off the horse so let’s get to it!
Motor skills are the movements and actions of muscles. Typically, motor skills are divided into gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills require the use of large muscle groups to do things like walk or balance. Fine motor skills require the use of smaller muscles to do things like write or zip a jacket. Therapeutic riding can help develop both types of motor skills, but today I’m going to focus on developing fine motor skills off the horse.
The road to independence is something that most therapeutic riding instructors struggle with. How do you know when your rider is ready? Is it right for this particular rider? If the rider goes independent can I add back helpers if needed?
I am going to start a new series here for the next 6 or so weeks. Many therapeutic riding centers offer both mounted and unmounted lessons. The therapeutic riding center I started with, GAIT TRC, has 60-minute lessons. Thirty minutes is on the horse and thirty minutes is in a learning room. I find off-horse activities to be very beneficial to the rider’s growth, learning ability, social skills, and horsemanship.
It inspired me to start a series based on lessons for off-horse activities. These activities are geared towards younger riders, but can be scaled for any age or skill level. Some of these activities could also be adapted to a ground-based program, depending on the goals of your participants.
A new blog will post every Monday morning so you can add some of these ideas to your weekly lessons. Check back next week for the first blog of the series all about fine motor skills!
You can find all the blog posts in this series in my new blog section: Series. This is the first of my series, but I have a few more in the works so I’ll keep you updated on what comes next.