|At High Hopes, therapeutic riding and other equestrian activities benefit the bodies,
minds and spirits of people with disabilities. Physically, the horse’s
movement has a dynamic effect on the rider’s body.
A horse's movement
closely resembles the normal gait of a human and can be used to produce
specific physical changes in the rider,
including normalization of muscle tone, postural and balance improvements
and increased strength.
The horse's movement can also help mitigate sensory integration issues. A smooth-gaited, consistently paced horse can provide the input needed to help a rider establish
rhythm. A rough-gaited horse may provide the stimulation needed to help organize and integrate sensory input.
Movement exploration while on the horse can help improve overall
Emotionally, the success of overcoming fear and anxiety
can increase a rider's self-esteem. Learning a riding skill will also have a positive effect
on a rider’s self-confidence. For some of the young people involved in various activities at High Hopes, the farm and
barn environment, the companionship and bonding with animals, and the development
of new skills are all components in a successful
experience. The relationships that develop between riders,
volunteers, horses and staff are all integral to a positive emotional
experience at High Hopes.
Cognitively, the horse provides many of our riders
with the motivation to learn new things. Educational goals
such as letter recognition and sequencing can be incorporated into
riding activities. Socially, therapeutic riding activities enable individuals
to interact with their peers in a group activity. Riding and the
related activities are fun as well as challenging.
Through the development of an individual riding plan
(IRP) specific to each rider's needs, the staff at High Hopes can develop individualized goals and objectives.
We invite and encourage our riders (and their parents,
guardians, teachers and therapists) to participate actively in this process, and our staff is readily available for consultation.
“I wanted to thank you for
giving my daughter the opportunity to participate in your wonderful
program at High
Hopes. She suddenly became more confident in herself, her teachers
have seen an improvement in her school work, and we all have seen
a more positive attitude in everything she attempts. I never thought
an hour a week of horseback riding could do so much. The staff
and volunteers of High Hopes are so pleasant and patient, the experience
has been more than I could have imagined. Thank you for this wonderful
gift you have given my daughter."
-- A High Hopes Parent