Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Woman in a red shirt enjoying a therapeutic horseback riding through the woods

Therapeutic horseback riding is an interactive physical, occupational, and speech therapy activity that can help balance, muscle strength, and posture. Riding a horse may also help individuals with autism or other sensory processing disorders to interact socially or learn new skills.

Balance, muscle strength, and posture

Therapeutic horseback riding is an interactive physical, occupational, and speech therapy activity that can help balance, muscle strength, and posture. It’s also a fun way to get some exercise. The benefits of therapeutic horseback riding can vary depending on the needs of the person receiving treatment and their overall health. 

For example, if you have poor balance or muscle tone (such as people recovering from a stroke), your therapist may suggest you use a walker or wheelchair when you first start with this treatment. 

However, once your strength improves through regular participation in therapeutic horseback riding activities over time (which varies based on unique circumstances), it may be beneficial for you to switch back to walking without any support devices!

It should be noted, however, that this type of therapy isn’t always appropriate for everyone; some people don’t enjoy being around animals or interacting with them very much at all.

Therapeutic riding programs are available for people of all ages and abilities, including those with autism or other sensory processing disorders. They help participants learn how to interact socially or learn new skills by developing their self-confidence while gaining a sense of independence from their surroundings through physical activity on their terms.

Core Skills

Core skills are the building blocks of therapeutic riding. They allow you to move, breathe, think and feel healthy. This means that as riders develop core skills, they can improve their physical and mental health and overall quality of life.

These skills include:

  • Balance
  • Muscle strength
  • Posture (how you sit or stand)
  • Social interaction
  • Social skills (knowing how to interact with others)
  • Cognitive skills (thinking processes)

Core Skills are necessary because they help keep your body healthy and strong. The more core skills riders have, the better off they will be!

Unique Advantages

There are several unique advantages to therapeutic horseback riding. 

  • First, it is a treatment that has been proven effective at treating some disorders. 
  • Second, it is also an effective form of exercise that can help promote weight loss and general fitness. 
  • Third, as you gain more experience with your horse, you will grow closer together while learning to trust each other’s strengths and weaknesses. 

This can occur in any relationship where two people work together towards a common goal—including relationships between humans!

Mood Boosts

The benefits of horseback riding are numerous, but one of the most important is that it can significantly improve a person’s mood. Riding a horse is an excellent source of affection and attention, which can help people feel more connected. This sense of connection goes both ways: when you’re with your horse, it will feel more connected to you.

Post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans

In addition to providing therapy for veterans, therapeutic horseback riding can also benefit individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop in someone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. 

The symptoms of PTSD include nightmares and flashbacks, avoidance of triggers, and hyperarousal. 

They may also experience severe anxiety or depression and difficulty maintaining interpersonal relationships. 

Therapeutic horseback riding is one of many treatments that are available when it comes to addressing the symptoms of this debilitating medical condition.

Cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities

Therapeutic horseback riding, designed for people with cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities, can help people with autism or other sensory processing disorders interact socially or learn new skills. 

It also helps those recovering from illness or injury regain balance and coordination. Additionally, it can improve the self-esteem of a person suffering from anxiety disorders.

Only horses with specific characteristics 

Many horses and ponies for therapeutic riding are in use of therapy. The American Hippotherapy Association requires only horses with specific characteristics for this use.

Horses and ponies typically used in therapeutic riding are calm and well-trained. A person must ride the horse at a walk to ensure that the horse is safe and appropriate for the child.

This pace allows riders to communicate with their horse and experience body awareness. Many trainers believe that starting at a walk helps the rider become more confident on their mount before moving on to faster gaits such as trotting, cantering, and galloping.

These horses must be well-trained and ridden at a walk at the beginning of a session. The horse should have a calm temperament and be well-trained so that it is not reactive to stimuli such as flapping tarps or waving flags (if you encounter these things on the trail).

Before you enroll in a therapeutic riding program, it is important to find out what kind of horse will be used. 

The goal of any therapeutic riding class is to teach participants how to successfully manage their bodies when atop a moving horse without relying on external devices such as stirrups or saddles. This will increase confidence levels in all participants regardless of age or ability level.

Therapeutic horseback riding does not work for everyone

While therapeutic horseback riding can benefit some people, it does not work for everyone. It is important to understand that therapeutic horseback riding is not a cure-all, nor should it be considered a substitute for medical treatment or therapy.


Therapeutic horseback riding is not for everyone and may not be an appropriate treatment for your condition. If you are interested in this therapy, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of trying it out. Check out our other horse-related articles!