Therapeutic riding can be beneficial to many people with special needs. The most obvious and often the most immediately recognizable benefit is physical, because riding is a very physical activity. The horse provides a dynamic base of support, making it an excellent tool for increasing trunk strength and control, balance, building overall postural strength and endurance, addressing weight bearing and motor planning. Equine movements offer well-modulated sensory input to vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile and visual channels.
The effects of equine movement on postural control, sensory systems and motor planning can be used to facilitate coordination and timing, grading of responses, respiratory control, sensory integration skills and attention skills. Equine movement can be used to facilitate the neurophysiologic systems that support all of our functional daily living skills.
Physical Therapists (PT):
• The physical therapist can overlay a variety of motor tasks on the horse’s movement to address the motor needs of each client and to promote functional outcomes in skill areas related to gross motor ability such as sitting.
Occupational Therapists (OT):
• The occupational therapist is able to combine the effects of the equine movement with the standard intervention strategies for working on fine motor control, sensory integration, attention skills, and activities of daily living in a progressively challenging manner.
Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP):
• The speech and language pathologist is able to use equine movement to facilitate the physiologic systems that support speech and language. The SLP is able to generate effective remediation of communication disorders and promote functional communication outcomes.
The aforementioned professionals work hand in hand with the THR Instructor to develop goals that enable the Instructor to formulate an activity plan specifically aimed to achieve the therapeutic goals as outlined by the therapists. Such activities may include throwing bean bags to a particular target whilst sitting on the horse, clipping small hair grips to the horses hair, verbal commands to the horse, amongst others. Such activities can help to address goals related to sitting balance, eye-hand coordination, pincer grasp and communication respectively.
The service is currently being provided to a vast number of clients of varying ages and disabilities. There are approximately 500 clients making use of the service as part of the Winter Program and Summer School. These clients are all under the age of 15 and have a vast range of disabilities including Conduct and Behavior Disorders, Autism, Neurological disabilities, Global Developmental Delay and Sensory Problems. A further 18 clients are benefiting from an individualized THR service. These clients have disabilities ranging from, but not limited to, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome and Global developmental Delay. There are approximately 12 clients from the Adult Training Centres (ATC’s) and 4 clients from Inspires Community and Inclusion Program also attending weekly for sessions, as are 4 clients from the Star program who all have neurological disorders.
The service is available Monday to Friday. The Summer School and Winter Programs are held in the mornings between 9am and 1:30 pm. During the Winter Program, clients are seen at a rate of 6 per hour, these clients all have a disability. During the Summer School, the clients that are seen are a mix with the aim of inclusion, therefore approximately 15 clients are seen per hour, usually in groups, however, the clients with special needs (approximately 5 per hour) are provided with more individualized attention.
The ATC clients, Community and Inclusion Clients, as well as the Star Program Clients are seen in the early afternoon following the school programs and the individual clients are provided with a service between 2 and 4pm, each session lasting anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. For more information contact Albert Camilleri by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 21636526.