Therapeutic Sports Riding

Riders of Hope Therapeutic Sports Riding program focuses on teaching riding skills to participants as young as 4 years of age with physical, cognitive and/or emotional disabilities. Our NARHA-certified therapeutic riding instructor works with the riders to participate in a recognized sport and to develop independent skills that carry over to their everyday lives. Once they are mounted, many of our riders experience a freedom of motion and ability that they do not or cannot enjoy in other aspects of their lives.

Sports riding classes are conducted as group, semi-private or private classes, riders are encouraged to set individual goals and progress is made at each individual's pace. These goals may range from holding the reins for one full circuit of the arena, to qualifying for and competing in the international arena. Our instructors are dedicated to helping our riders grow and to achieve their independent potential.

Benefits of Therapeutic Sports Riding:

  • Physically, the horse in motion, moves a rider with disabilities rhythmically and naturally through space in a way that simulates the human walking gait. This type of motion develops core muscle strength, balance and posture. Horseback riding also develops gross and fine motor control and promotes coordination.
  • Mentally, horseback riding increases concentration, improves sequential thought processing and develops spatial awareness.
  • Emotionally, horseback riding provides an opportunity for riders to bond with the horse, their instructor and their volunteers. This helps develop trust and reinforces appropriate behaviors.
  • Socially, horseback riding nurtures a positive self-image and self-confidence as riding skills are learned. Riders often experience independence for the first-time in their lives as they become a member of the Equestrian team.

Equine Experiential Learning - "Bonding with Horses"

Depending on interests, needs and abilities of our beneficiaries and of our available resources we are continuously tailoring our program.  This is an equine facilitated psychotherapy program that provides an interactive approach for clients coping with behavioral and emotional issues. This approach to therapeutic riding is focused on clients interacting with horses in a variety of ways. Clients are learning more about horses through numerous activities such as:

  • Horse care - Students learn to lead, groom and maintain the cleanliness and safety of stalls and pastures and gain knowledge of horse colors, breeds and terminology.
  • Horse handling - Students learn how to select appropriate tack and fit it to the horse: learn horse handling and training techniques such as longing and long lining
  • Horse health care - Students learn to apply elements of equine firs aid, including cleaning wounds, measuring the horses temperature, pulse and respiration, applying wraps and bandages and identifying symptoms of various diseases.
  • Cleaning - Students learn the basic of barn care, including sweeping, dusting, washing, cleaning stalls and cleaning tack
  • Studying - Students are absorbing horse behavior, including ground work and natural horsemanship methods.

 Independent Sports Riding

Clients increase their skills without the assistance of trained volunteers. They learn techniques that accommodate their disability so independent horse care and management can be mastered. Clients will work on advanced riding skills that help prepare them for competition, drill team maneuvers and increased horsemanship.

Joker Riders

Joker riding is for our able body clients.  Lessons may include but are not limited to saddling your horse, riding quadrille, jumping, English riding and dressage.  Riders of all levels and abilities are encouraged to enroll.  We are very thankful for our able body clients and they contribution through volunteering in our other programs!


PLANED PROGRAMS (pending further funding)

Horses for Heroes

Given the relatively recent wartime history in the region, there is an unusually high demand for therapies that would benefit war veterans.  This program will help veterans with challenges such as head and spinal cord injuries, amputations of both upper and lower limbs, auditory and visual impairments and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Veterans using Hippotherapy and the horse as the therapy tool work to increase balance and control of movement on and off the horse.  In Sports Riding, veterans would focus on learning horseback riding skills through the achievement of therapeutic goals.  Veterans would work toward riding independently.  

Competition Team

Advanced riders learn about sportsmanship, teamwork, and the rules of showing. Competition in horse shows and ability awareness takes place locally, nationally, and internationally.  One of the plans of Riders of Hope is to establish and train the first ever Bosnian equestrian team for Parolympics. 

Hippotherapy - “treatment with the help of the horse.”

Riders of Hope Therapy Services would provide outpatient physical and occupational therapy to children and adults with movement dysfunction. Disabilities that benefit from Hippotherapy include (but are not limited to) cerebral palsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury and multiple sclerosis. Hippotherapy – using equine movement as a treatment strategy – has been successfully used to achieve functional outcomes in therapy throughout the United States since the late 1970’s.

In Hippotherapy, the client receives treatment while mounted on the horse. The horse provides a consistent and rhythmic movement pattern that helps improve trunk mobility and strength, postural strength and endurance, proprioception, weight bearing and motor planning. Hippotherapy is used primarily to achieve physical goals but may also affect psychological, cognitive, behavioral and communication outcomes.

The therapy team would consist of the therapist, a PATH Intl.-certified riding instructor, three volunteers, the horse and the client - each member of the team would play a unique role to ensure the client receives the best and most effective treatment. New clients would receive an initial evaluation, during which functional goals are established and a plan of treatment is outlined based on the Neurodevelopment Treatment Approach (NDT). The client would participate in a 50-minute individual therapy session that is generally divided into 3 parts -- preparation before mounting, balancing and strength work on the horse, and then functional activity after dismounting.

*A Physician’s prescription would be required for treatment.


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