Frequently Asked Questions
- What is therapeutic riding and how can it benefit myself or my child?
From the website of Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH): Therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs. Therapeutic riding provides benefits in the areas of health, education, sport and recreation & leisure. Throughout the world, there are thousands of individuals with special needs who experience the rewarding benefits of horseback riding. A disability does not have to limit a person from riding horses. In fact, experiencing the motion of a horse can be very therapeutic. Because horseback riding rhythmically moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength. In addition to the therapeutic benefits, horseback riding also provides recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors.
Equine therapy can take many forms. Riding is the most common, but we have plenty of students that would prefer to spend time with our horses out of the saddle--and that's okay too! Equine therapy can benefit people with all types of disabilities ranging from physical to cognitive to emotional. We provide a safe, peaceful, and low stress environment for our clients. All of our students have seen major improvements since they began their journey with us. The benefits are too many to list and vary greatly depending on the person. Each individual gets something special out of equine therapy and they each find a unique purpose in their work with their horses. Some have found a great improvement in physical strength, coordination, and flexibility while others have found a sense of confidence, belonging, and passion. Whatever it is that you are looking for in a therapy program, your goals can be met through equine therapy.
- What can I expect at my first session with Horses Bring Hope?
Our lessons/therapy sessions are coordinated and directed by our head instructor and President, Dina. She along with highly trained and experienced volunteer staff will guide you through each lesson. At your first lesson, you can expect to take it slow as you get used to your horse and the experience of riding. It is not easy and can be very physically exhausting. We will never push you to do anything you are not ready for. We will work at your pace, no matter how quick or slow that may be. Our instructor and volunteers will assess you and together we can determine what your goals will be for the future and figure out how to meet them. Maybe you want to work towards a stronger core or maybe you want to feel more confident in yourself or maybe you are just looking to excel in a sport because you never were able to before. Regardless of what your goals are, we can make them happen!
We have a strict system in place to ensure the safety of you, our volunteers, and our horses. Each student will be accompanied by at least two volunteers during their first lesson and each lesson after that until they are confident enough to ride on their own. Typically, there is a horse handler leading the horse during your ride and one to two side-walkers that walk alongside you to make sure you are comfortable and safe and to instruct and guide you during the ride.
- What should I bring and wear to my lessons?
We strongly recommend that you have proper equipment to make sure you are safe during your lessons. Please wear a boot that provides sufficient ankle support with at least a 1" heel and comfortable clothing. Jeans or riding pants are preferred; wearing shorts can cause leg chaffing and yoga or windbreaker pants are very slippery in the saddle, so please avoid wearing these. Helmets are mandatory. A certified riding helmet will be provided to you if you do not have your own, we have a large collection in many sizes, but if you decide to continue riding with us often, we highly recommend you invest in a helmet of your own so that you have one that fits properly and is not shared with other riders as it is easier to keep track of damages to the helmet.
You also should bring a water bottle or sports drink to your lessons because just as with any other sport, you need to keep hydrated! Make sure you eat a decent meal before your lesson; you will be burning calories and we do not want you to become fatigued. We want you to be safe and healthy, that is always our first priority.