Posts Tagged ‘equine therapy’

Saddles for Soldiers

A dear friend of mine (that I don’t see enough) is one of the key players for this amazing program: Saddles for Soldiers helps veterans and their families cope with the stress of returning home from combat, long-term depression, and re-entry issues…by using the best tool on the planet…HORSES!

With a team of a professional mental health worker and horse experts, healing on physical and emotional levels occurs as the bond between rider and mount grows–it is not too much of a stretch to say miracles happen in the saddle. Shadow Hills Riding Club, in the San Fernando Valley, specializes in several therapeutic equine programs as well as general riding and truly inspiring arts programs involving horses (actors’ workshops, mounted theatre productions, etc). When I last visited I was lucky enough to watch a session with a child with Down’s syndrome who was absolutely reveling in the joy of being in the saddle. Equine therapy is a true, meaningful science that makes hearts soar while having measurable, actual healing effects. I’ve ridden at barns on the East Coast that were also involved in therapeutic riding programs that had amazing results. Shadow Hills Riding Club is even exploring blending twelve-step recovery programs with riding. This is work, in all the many directions they are taking it, that is breaking boundaries in so many ways. The potential is outstanding, and your support can make a huge difference for how many people they can reach. I know it’s a safe bet you’ve probably given a lot of donations at the end of the year, and might be smarting in the wallet from holiday spending…but look around the website, see what’s going on in the riding ring, and I promise you’ll be moved.

Link to a great video after the break. Continue reading

Les P’tits Cracks

I’m in Versailles, France right now for work, and staying in a pretty stunning hotel, the Trianon Palace by Waldorf Astoria. In addition to the sublime setting and phenomenal service, I’m so pleased to see that as the hotel celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, it has partnered with a children’s charity to raise funds and awareness. Les P’tits Cracks was founded in 2001 and supports children with cancer both in hospital (funding medical equipment and treatments in and around Paris) as well as once kids are discharged. Les P’tits Cracks brings young convalescents to equestrian camps and cultural excursions. The horse camps help in healing and dramatically improve moods and outlook among kids needing every ounce of positivity.

Next time you’re in a hotel, ask what charitable and community work the hotel supports. Almost all have some particular outreach to leave a stamp on the community where they reside, and the ventures are worth a little support from us, the customers…not just because the charities benefit, but to also show hotel corporate decision makers that philanthropy and outreach are qualities that matter to us.

Equine Therapy

Helios-the horse from whom I was ungracefully separated yesterday

I fell off a horse yesterday while jumping. I’m fine, just a little achy this morning–I don’t bounce like I used to. I’ve loved horses for as long as I can remember, and truly cherish the relationship that builds between us. At the barn where I ride, I’ve been on several of the horses and there are several I’d still like to ride–I fall in love with all of them and pine for more time to ride. Even when I don’t feel like getting up early on a Sunday to ride, I am always, ALWAYS glad I have done it–what I get from the experience is indescribable.

Equine Therapy (also known as hippotherapy, from the Greek word for horse) is an amazing science and practice of therapeutic riding for those with mental and physical challenges.


From the Equine Therapy Associates website:

Horse riding as therapy is equally appropriate for those with mental and physical challenges as it is for very young riders, those who need to boost their confidence, those who return to the sport after many years, and those who have developed an interest in riding in mature years. Research conducted by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) shows that therapeutic techniques can promote mental, physical, and emotional rewards.

Because the horse’s gait most closely approximate a human’s, therapeutic riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a fashion that enhances muscle strength, balance, and flexibility. For individuals facing emotional or mental challenges, the discipline, companionship, and routine of the partnership between horse and rider helps promote self-esteem, patience, and confidence. Virtually all riders, with or without special challenges, find that horseback riding fosters independence. The therapeutic benefits of riding are acknowledged by many medical professions, including the American Physical Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association. Increasingly, insurance plans offer partial, if not full, reimbursement for therapy conducted by an certified instructor in an accredited facility.

The roughly 700 Operating Centers of the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association run the gamut from small, personalized, private farms where one or two instructors use their own horses and direct their own programs, to large corporations, led by Boards of Directors, employing dozens of horses and instructors, with a hundred or more volunteers. In all, NARHA riding centers encompass more than 35,000 volunteers, 2,515 instructors, 5,500 equines, and 600+ therapists.

Equine therapy programs around the world depend on the work of volunteers who are instrumental in sessions as well as horse care. If you’re a little “horsey” or even a curious first-timer, somebody is doing this precious and valuable work near you right now…and they need a hand.

Find a NARHA Center here.