The Beauty of Therapeutic Riding

Therapy Riding Center of Huntington Beach
This therapy horseback riding center is located in Southern California. Photo via Therapeutic Riding Center of Huntington Beach/Facebook  

The Washington Post and OC Register are reporting on what horse people have known for a long time: horseback riding is great therapy. Whatever the issue – physical, emotional, developmental – once we’re on a horse, all of that seems to go away. For the last 25 years, the Therapeutic Riding Center at the Huntington Beach Central Park Equestrian Center in Southern California has offered therapy riding classes to those with special needs. And they’re not going to stop anytime soon.

The president and lead instructor at the center, Donna Brandt, got involved with therapeutic riding after her daughter Jamie was diagnosed as “severely developmentally delayed,” The Orange County Register reports. Brandt tried several therapies, but it was therapeutic riding that made the biggest difference.

“This is the one she liked the best,” Brandt told OC Register. “She’ll sit around all day and wait to go riding. This is the one that stuck.”

Other parents and caregivers agree. The Therapeutic Riding Center’s students include 4-year-old Eddie Brennan. When the autistic child rides the dark bay therapy horse named Kattie, a connection is seen. For Katy Prill, a 17-year-old with Down syndrome, she has very much the same connection whenever she rides a bay named Wilma.

“She’s almost unrecognizable,” her father, David Gill, told the Register.

For 28-year-old Angie, who lives with epilepsy, therapeutic riding brought her confident personality back.

Brandt said therapeutic riding helps build core strength in those who use wheelchairs and also builds self-confidence. Each session consists of a volunteer who leads the horse and two volunteers who walk on each side of the horse to help protect riders from falling. The classes are an hour long and take place once a week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Classes are taken in 10-week semesters and cost $410, plus a $50 application fee per student. Scholarships are available for those in need, the Register reports.

For more information about the Therapeutic Riding Center at the Huntington Beach Central Park Equestrian Center, visit the website.



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