Horseback riding is a popular recreational activity that boasts positive benefits for individuals living with a disability. From adults to children, therapeutic horseback riding helps empower and improve the lives of those living with an emotional, cognitive, or physical disability. Here are a few benefits of horseback riding for people with disabilities.
Individuals can gain greater confidence by mastering a skill that’s typically performed by non-disabled people. The ability to take on the task of controlling such a large animal and even participating in events and shows can add to the rider’s sense of self-confidence.
Improved Risk-Taking Abilities
Horseback riding is a risky sport. The rider must learn to master their fears through the act of balancing on the horse and attempting new skills and positions on the horse.
Development of Patience
Horseback riding skills aren’t acquired overnight. The rider learns patience as they attempt to perform skills on the horse, even when the horse is not cooperating. Repetition of basic riding skills also helps them develop patience.
Emotional Control and Self-Discipline
Shouting, crying, and emotional outbursts can upset a horse, which often frightens riders. To avoid this, riders learn how to control these emotions and appropriately express their feelings.
Improved Balance and Stronger Muscles
As the horse moves, the rider is constantly required to contract and relax their muscles in an attempt to rebalance themselves. This exercise reaches deep muscles not accessible in conventional physical therapy. Stopping and starting the horse, changing speed, and changing direction all increase balance and build muscle through repeated use when riding.
Becoming a horseback riding expert requires faster reflexes and better motor planning. Repetition of the patterned movements required to control a horse quickens the reflexes and aids in motor planning.
While there are plenty more benefits to horseback riding, such as increased social interaction with riders, instructors, and animals, these are some of the biggest benefits of horseback riding for people with disabilities. If you or a loved one is living with a disability, get fitted for a saddle and start riding to see the benefits yourself.
It’s interesting to know that horseback riding is actually popular for people who have a disability. One of my cousins just lost her right leg because of a car accident and has refused to go out. Once they have found an attorney who can help her apply for social security benefits, I’ll be sure to invite her for a session.