Hearts and Horses: Why Therapeutic Riding is so Helpful
Australian Poet, Pamela Brown, once said, "horses lend us the wings we lack." This statement could not be more true about what one Northern Colorado nonprofit doing for its riders.
Nonprofit Organization Hearts and Horses provides therapeutic services for children, adults and veterans with physical and mental disabilities.
With a herd of 30 animals made up of horses, mules and miniature donkeys, Hearts and Horses Development Manager, Kathryn Yuma, gave "Tuned In to NoCo" the down-low of why equines are so therapeutic.
“The most important thing is the natural gaits or the movement of a horse. This stimulates human walking in a manner that can’t be mechanically replicated. So, while our participants are riding, they are having to make postural adjustments, which helps them maintain balance and helps their overall balance when they are not on the horse as well.”
Aside from muscle tone and flexibility, Yuma says equines help riders in a variety of other ways as well.
“Horses are really fantastic animals. They offer a nonjudgmental relationship. So, they accept you however you are, however you present that day – they don’t judge you. They really help you tap into your emotions and help you be present.”
With a professional riding staff and about 700 individuals who step up and volunteer each year, Hearts and Horses provides therapeutic riding sessions that range from 8-10 weeks long.
Yuma discussed the 8-week program for veterans in particular, and she says this program not only assists our heroes with PTSD but with their relationships as well.
“I think it really helps ground our veterans in really connecting with what’s important to them and helping them work on their relationships in and outside the arena. It really takes a lot of mental focus and clarity of intent.”
Hearts and Horses serves about 1,000 riders every year, and their website says they have helped and continue to help individuals who suffer from:
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Visual Impairment
- Down Syndrome
- Spina Bifida
- Emotional Disorders
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Learning Disabilities
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Cerebral Palsy
- Sensory Integration
- Developmental Delay
- Fine/Gross Motor Skills
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
For more information or to learn how you can volunteer click here.
To listen to the full interview check out the video below.
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