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About Willow Farms Therapeutic Riding

The gait of the horse is very similar to that of a walking person due to physiology of the pelvis. Riding stimulates neuromuscular pathways that target balance and coordination, muscle strength and endurance as well as flexibility. It also stimulates different pathways that include speech, processing, and non-verbal ways of interacting. Rather than in traditional therapies that may only focus on one thing at a time, riding incorporates the entire body at the same time.

We also offer an un-mounted class that concentrates on the relationship between the horse and the student using grooming, leading and social interaction to achieve this relationship. Un-mounted activities encourage a bond that is similar to that while riding but from the ground. The importance of trust is necessary but we also look at how horses relate to one another. We need to interact with them as they do with each other, so it is important we understand where we as people belong in the herd. Physical improvements are worked on because of leading and grooming, but social interaction and emotional bond is sometimes more important in these sessions.

Our Program

Our program serves school age children from 3-26 years with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. At this time we have a riding weight limit of 150 lbs.

Most classes are mounted and the groups range from 2 to 5 riders. The riders spend close to 45 minutes on the horse after spending time preparing as the class is an hour long. Riders sign up for 4 lessons. They may sign up for more than one session in a summer if there is availability.

Our instructors are certified by PATH International, which is the international organization that is a guide and resource for the work with people with disabilities – cognitive, physical, and emotional – and horses.

The application process includes an intake with our therapist and instructor at the barn. The rider will be introduced to the barn, fitted for and asked to wear a helmet, and also will meet some of our horses. There is a required physician’s referral and a school IEP if available.

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