Therapeutic Horseback Riding (THR), “uses equine-assisted activities for the purpose of contributing positively to cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well-being of people with disabilities” (PATH). Equine-assisted activities include riding horses, ground activities with horses, and taking care of the horses. Riders can also engage with horses through managing the stables, and viewing horse shows/parades.
Therapeutic riding “provides benefits in the areas of health, education, sport, and recreation” (PATH). It has been proven a fact that riding a horse and feeling the motion of riding a horse is therapeutic. Horseback riding moves the rider’s body similar to a human gait (locomotion achieved through the movement of limbs). This movement produced while horseback riding has shown an improvement in the rider through “flexibility, balance, and muscle strength” (PATH).
The rider does not go through this process alone. PATH, which is the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, provides “international centers, professional staff and volunteers who work closely with riders to ensure safe riding sessions” (PATH). When the rider is new to this kind of therapy, two side walkers and horse leader walk with the horse and the new rider. Instructors who have a solid background with horses and knowledge of various disabilities teach the riding classes that are provided (PATH). THR is not limited to people with disabilities. THR is for anyone who is recovering from injuries, strokes, and even depression.