What is therapeutic riding?
Therapeutic riding uses horse-oriented activities for the purpose of contributing positively to cognitive, physical, emotional and social well being of people with disabilities. Therapeutic riding provides benefits in the areas of therapy, education, sport, recreation and leisure. There are no state or federal regulatory bodies to govern these activities. Instead, the field is self-governed. The best known national organization is the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH).
PATH is committed to safe, ethical and professional equine assisted therapy.. Their mission is to foster safe, professional, ethical and therapeutic activities through education. Adherence to their standards is an important step in a commitment to quality and excellence. The development of such standards clearly indicates that today’s therapeutic riding community is willing to monitor its own activities in a professional manner.
Therapeutic riding is becoming increasingly recognized in Alaska as a popular means for providing recreation and contributing to the physical and emotional development of people with disabilities and special needs. Numerous groups and individuals seek to offer this service and it is important for parents, care providers and health care professionals to understand how to make responsible choices among programs. Before discussing elements of a meaningful therapeutic riding program, it is important to understand what we mean by ‘therapeutic riding’.
What elements should be present in a therapeutic riding program?
There are many components to a well-run program. Quality activities for the riders should be planned. The facilities should be safe and well maintained. The health and welfare of the horses involved should be a prerequisite. A commitment to safety for riders, volunteers, health care providers and instructors should be a prime consideration.