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Benefits of Equine Assisted Activities

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PHYSICAL CONDITIONING:The activity of riding closely simulates human gait. The warmth from the horse and the rhythmical motion provides relaxation to spastic muscles. Exercises done on the horse are designed to improve balance, endurance, range of motion, and strength.
In the last several years the use of animals in therapy has sharply increased. Experts recognize the significance of the bond formed between man and animal. The student is taught not only how to ride, but also how to handle and care for the horse. In turn this large warm friendly animal provides a symbol of strength stability and friendship for the student.
INCENTIVE FOR LEARNING AND REALIZING POTENTIAL: For many students the enjoyment derived from this experience will encourage them to attempt new tasks and perhaps discover hidden proficiencies. Other students may leave this program with a heightened sense of self awareness and capability. But for all students this experience will create an inward challenge allowing the student to perceive himself or herself more positively and accurately.


Learning skills and mastering a task can provide an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and achievement. This can be an immeasurable benefit to the confidence and self worth of the student.





Grooming a horse works to improve tactile responses and motor planning skills because of the demand for various senses and skills. The repetitive movement of grooming assists with cognitive retraining. The areas of fine and gross motor function and muscle tone can be influenced by a routine students must follow when grooming or tacking a horse. Cognitive areas such as sequencing, verbal and non-verbal communication/vocabulary is facilitated when a student must use problem-solving skills to keep the lead rope from dragging on the ground or placing the saddle pad on before the saddle. Groundwork also focuses on spatial awareness, motor planning, memory, endurance, attention span, hand/eye coordination, bilateral involvement, balance, vestibular stimulation. Working with HETRA instructors, students work on staying on task, following directions, short and long-term memory development, working individually or as part of a team, and accepting redirection if necessary.


Carriage driving at HETRA is conducted outdoors. Along with environment awareness, driving has many physical benefits including improved hand-eye coordination, motor skills, muscular strength, and stability. Cognitive skills include sequencing, and right/left discrimination, spatial and directional awareness.


Sensory processing refers to the brain’s ability to take in, analyze and respond to information from the body’s five senses. The barn environment is a vast set of sensory experiences, including the barn’s noises and smells. A horse is a myriad of varying textures; velvety muzzle, coarse mane, smooth body hair, and hard hooves. Postural responses are facilitated when working on various barn activities including carrying a bucket with grooming tools, bending to brush a horse’s knee, placing the saddle on the horse or riding.