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Therapeutic Riding provides healthy exercise to individuals with special needs by allowing them to participate in the sport of horseback riding in a success-oriented environment.

Therapeutic Benefits:

All these measurable therapeutic benefits come without the rider even being aware of being in therapy! The benefits are not only physical in nature or reserved for individuals with physical disabilities. There are emotional and psychological benefits as well. Horses are non-judgmental; they do not laugh when told secrets. They provide a strong shoulder to lean on and they do not shun people who are a little different.

  • Improves balance and coordination

  • Provides passive stretch for tight muscles

  • Replicates a muscle movement pattern like that of walking

  • Improves posture

  • Strengthens muscles by encouraging muscular response

  • Increases awareness of one's body in space (proprioception)

  • Stimulates the vestibular, nervous and circulatory systems

  • Improves range of motion

Skills for Success

The skills learned in riding class can be applied elsewhere in the lives of students. Each time the student has a success in riding, such as learning that there is a way, though it may not always be easy, he or she learns to deal with other problems.

Therapeutic Riding may also benefit those having difficulty with school lessons, such as school materials, learning colors, numbers and right/left discrimination is often incorporated into the riding lesson. But, learning on horseback is fun. Most of the time, the students do not even realize that they are learning much more than just how to ride! What they learn in their riding class is often carried back into the classroom without the students ever realizing it.

  • Reinforces standards of behavior

  • Teaches trust through the rider/horse bond

  • Teaches problem solving skills and increases self-confidence and self-discipline

  • Teaches the use of patience to control the horse

  • Enhances decision making skills

  • Promotes responsibility and cooperation

  • Increases the ability to focus and stay on task

  • Provides an increase in self-esteem and pride

  • Instills a sense of accomplishment


While the benefits of Therapeutic Riding have been medically documented, statistics alone cannot fully describe the true value of this service. The look of confidence, pride and achievement on a rider's face when he or she has successfully completed a task is the most profound measure of its value. To put it simply, Therapeutic Riding works and the benefits are ongoing.

Learn about EAAT (Equine Assisted Activities & Therapies)

Therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs. Therapeutic riding provides benefits in the areas of health, education, sport and recreation & leisure. Throughout the world, there are thousands of individuals with special needs who experience the rewarding benefits of horseback riding. A disability does not have to limit a person from riding horses. In fact, experiencing the motion of a horse can be very therapeutic. Because horseback riding rhythmically moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength. In addition to the therapeutic benefits, horseback riding also provides recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors.

At Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) centers, professional staff and volunteers work closely with riders to ensure safe riding sessions. A new rider is generality assisted by two side-walkers who walk alongside the horse, as well as a horse leader. Riding classes are taught by an instructor who has a strong equine background, as well as an understanding of various disabilities.

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