Thursday, May 16, 2013
One thing I will be doing during summer break is volunteering at a therapeutic riding facility. The kids are such a blessing to me, and you can see the benefits that come from the therapy. I also love horses!! Anyway, therapeutic riding contributes to cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well being of people with disabilities and emotional needs. Therapy riding challenges the rider in many areas such as communication, trust, responsibility, patience, relationships, self confidence, and social skills. Horses are large animals and often they are intimidating to adults and children. Horses respond to human emotions and non-verbal communication. They are also smart, so it's hard to manipulate them. In return, this forces the rider to learn clear, positive and useful communication skills. Riders are forced to learn trust because they have to overcome their fear and learn to trust the volunteers and their horse before they can mount. It teaches responsibility because after the lesson, the rider must groom and care for the horse. Horses are very loving and non-judgmental, and because of this riders learn patience. The whole experience with them challenges the issue of self confidence and social skills. It may not seem like a lot is going on at once, but there's so much more to it than you'd think! Not only is therapeutic riding good mentally. It's good physically! Riding encourages stretching and strengthening of muscles that may be underused or underdeveloped. It improves coordination, helps develop both fine and gross motor skills, and increases awareness of the body. I think it's a wonderful thing, and a creative way to help children with special needs. What other ways could you keep special needs children from regressing during summer break?