Adaptive riding utilizes on- and off-horse activities to positively contribute to the cognitive, physical, and emotional well-being of individuals with special needs.
Horseback-riding and horsemanship activities provide students with physical and cognitive challenges, encouraging improvements in:
- Flexibility, balance, and muscle strength
- Attention span
- Ability to follow multi-step directions
- Appropriate social interactions (including eye contact, vocal volume, and expressive language)
In addition to the quantitative outcomes achieved by adaptive riding, there are immeasurable recreational benefits. Horseback-riding often improves a student’s quality of life by providing them with an opportunity to bond with their horse, instructor, side walkers, and peers. For students with limited mobility or difficulty connecting with others, adaptive riding offers a chance to participate in a sport and connect with others via a shared interest/activity.
Choosing Adaptive Riding
Adaptive riding is an appropriate choice for students who benefit from working with an instructor possessing an understanding of various disabilities and ways to adapt the tack or lesson plan to accommodate their needs. Students are often assisted by a sidewalker on either side of the horse, as well as horse handler, all of which provide support during the lesson based on the instructors guidance. NCEFT can accommodate most riders, provided they are:
- Not a danger to themselves or others (no hitting, biting, hair pulling, etc.)
- Comfortable wearing a helmet
- Able to maintain an upright head and neck position
- Able to follow single step instructions