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.Continue reading
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?Continue reading
Hypertonia and Hypotonia
In therapeutic riding, we often see clients who have issues with muscle tone. Hypertonia and hypotonia are two terms used to describe muscle tone. Hypertonia means high muscle tone and lack of flexibility. This often involves stiff movements and poor balance. Hypotonia means low muscle tone and too much flexibility, which can result in difficulty lifting limbs or struggling with fine and gross motor activities.
Therapeutic riding can help both hypertonia and hypotonia as long as there are no contraindications to riding.Continue reading
Down Syndrome and Therapeutic Riding
Today, I am continuing our disabilities series today with Down Syndrome.
Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that is commonly associated with developmental delays, poor muscle tone, and cognitive impairment. Early therapy interventions can have a positive impact on children with Down Syndrome. Therapeutic horseback riding may be one such intervention used to help with physical, cognitive, social, and behavioral issues.
Please note: therapeutic horseback riding is NOT therapy unless it is done under the supervision of a therapist in hippotherapy settings.Continue reading
Choosing a Horse for Your Program
Horses are the lifeblood of our programs. Without the horse, therapeutic riding does not exist. So how do we make sure we are choosing the right horse? First, we need to identify the individual needs of our center. This includes looking at strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities. After we do that, we can start discussing how to choose a horse.Continue reading