Learning disabilities come in many varieties. Some of the students may have difficulties not even diagnosed with a specific name yet. All that is known is that the student fits in this broad range of challenges that prevent students from learning at a “normal” pace. One of the remedies that is just as broad is therapeutic horseback riding. Or a close cousin, hippotherapy.
Hippotherapy involves a registered physical therapist and mostly involves using equitation (horseback riding) to stimulate, stretch or strengthen muscles. Therapeutic horseback riding is most efficiently provided by those specifically trained in the unique benefits of this modality (form of treatment). A national organization called North American Riding for the Handicapped (NARHA) trains and monitors facilities and therapists to promote and improve this field of therapy.
The benefits to students with learning disabilities are numerous. One of the largest problems and almost universally present with this population is low self esteem. There is nothing like being in control of a 1200 lb. animal and having it do what you tell it to boost self esteem. Students have fun while they play games or complete tasks using skills they need to develop. They may be reading as they ride through an obstacle course or counting, or using math. The skills they can improve are only limited by the imagination of the instructor.
Students begin to see themselves as learning abled rather than learning disabled and see that even though they may learn in differnent ways than other students, they still are capable of learning and achieving success. There is nothing more effective with children than therapy that appears to be play!