About Manes & Motions
When riding a horse, participants are given the opportunity to feel freedom and empowerment through movement. Research shows that individuals who participate in therapeutic riding can experience behavioral, cognitive, creative, emotional, linguistic, physical sensory and social benefits. Please click on the buttons below to learn more about each benefit.
Riders must behave in an acceptable manner in order to participate in equestrian activities. The motivation to ride and be with the horse often is enough for the rider to maintain that level of behavior. The sensory input that the rider receives can also help focus the rider and allow them to achieve a more acceptable behavior pattern.
In the span of a single lesson, or possibly an entire semester, riders may work on following directions, maintaining focus, sequencing, recall of past learning, memorization of terms, and/or task analysis. Because the horse is such a powerful motivator for many participants, the riding lesson is also a unique opportunity to review or reinforce other cognitive goals the rider may have. The environment naturally lends itself to letter, number, shape and color recognition, but other educational and cognitive concepts may also be creatively approached.
The equine environment affords many opportunities to engage in creative activities. Stories, songs, poems, art and music are all used to supplement the riding experience. Imagination is called upon to transport the members of the group to a new location as they ride, to design an obstacle course that challenges the riders both creatively and in their riding skills, and to dream up stories about the trail they ride upon or the horse they ride.
As a participant overcomes fears and conquers new challenges in the riding arena their self-esteem and self-worth increases. Riding provides many opportunities for success and increased independence. Riders are encouraged to express their feelings in a positive way through equine art, stories, and songs as well as through conversations with their volunteers and instructors. Most importantly, riders have the opportunity to experience the benefits of the human-horse bond.
The physical benefits combined with the motivation to ride often lead to many language breakthroughs for some riders. Sign language, verbalization, and alternative communication methods are all employed in order to help the rider and the riding team communicate with each other. It is not unusual to hear stories of riders who say their first words on the horse.
The horse's movement while walking provides input to the rider's trunk and pelvis that closely resembles the movement in the normal human gait. This input can be used to help facilitate various physical changes in the rider such as normalization of muscle tone along with improved balance, posture, and coordination. Horseback riding is a physical activity that can improve endurance and increase strength and flexibility. Equine activities such as grooming and stable management also provide opportunities for physical improvements.
A wide variety of sensory input that horseback riding and other equine activities offer multiple tactile sensations, along with visual, auditory, and olfactory stimuli. Some examples of sensory activities include: the bouncing that occurs while trotting, maintaining balance through direction and pace changes, grooming, and petting the horse.
Riding at Manes & Motions is a social activity. Many of our lessons are group lessons in which two or more riders who must interact not only with each other, but also with their volunteers and instructors throughout the lesson. Even riders who are in private lessons socialize with the volunteers and instructor. Riders at Manes & Motions have a common ground to interact with other riders. Riders are not the only ones to benefit from participation at Manes & Motions. Parents and caregivers also have the opportunity to network, socialize, and support each other while their child or client rides.