Equine Assisted Therapy Alaska offers a number of equine-assisted activities and therapies, including therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, ground work, and stable management. In current development are mental health and wellness programs designed to assist individuals of all ages and walks of life to recover from psychological diagnoses and disorders.
Therapeutic Riding occurs in one hour long lessons with 1-4 riders, grouped based on similar cognitive or physical ability, age, and/or therapeutic goals. Lessons aim to teach riding skills and, eventually, provide the rider with the skills and experience necessary to become independent rider. Therapeutic benefits include an increase in muscle tone, strength, self-esteem, improvements in coordination and balance, social interaction and communication, and development of a sense of control.
Class activities include learning riding skills, trail rides, and group activities such as competitive games. Students also expand their horsemanship skills by learning how to help groom and tack their horses (as appropriate). The increased attention, concentration, learning, and verbal skills that are inherent in learning to ride successfully lead to a magical bond with the horse, leading to improved social skills, such as making new friends, and gaining an appreciation for authority.
How Therapeutic Riding Works
The horse’s soothing rhythm, warmth and three-dimensional movement pattern provides healthy exercise while improving circulation and muscle tone. The discipline associated with working with horses and the social interactions between peers benefit the mind and spirit while raising self-esteem and increasing self-sufficiency through accomplishment. The bond between the rider and the horse reduces anxiety, promoted verbal and physical interactions, and offers a haven for participant empowerment.
Hippotherapy consists of intensive one-on-one therapy sessions with a licensed therapist who utilizes the unique qualities of the horse as a therapy means. The movement of the horse at a walk mimics the rider’s own pelvic movement, providing a distinctive opportunity that cannot be duplicated in traditional clinical settings. Physically, the horse moves in a three-dimensional pattern similar to the action of the human pelvis during normal, upright movement, and thus Hippotherapy offers an increased potential for walking and normal hip development for individuals living with disabilities. Upper body benefits include improved hand/eye coordination, posture and balance, and core strength.