Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic Riding, the most popular form of Equine-Assisted Activities & Therapies (EAAT), is mounted horseback riding for the purpose of contributing positively to cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of people with disabilities through the teaching of horsemanship skills.

(Reference: PATH Intl. “Parents and Professionals Resource Guide”)

At Shepard Meadows, we use horses and equine-assisted activities to achieve goals that focus on therapeutic riding skills as a means of providing treatment for an individual. This is accomplished with the guidance of a certified PATH riding instructor and through the development of a relationship between horse and rider.

Achievement goals may be therapeutic, recreational, sport-oriented, or any combination of these elements. Riding lesson plans are individualized and designed to engage participants in a positive, supportive learning environment that cultivates successful results.


Benefits of Therapeutic Riding & Non-Mounted Equine Activities

Physical – The horse’s movement has a dynamic affect on the rider’s body. The horse stimulates the rider’s pelvis and trunk in a manner that closely resembles the normal gait of a human. This movement can be used to produce specific physical changes in the rider including normalization of muscle tone and improvements in posture, balance, coordination, and increased endurance.

Sensory Integration – The horse and the riding environment offer a wide variety of input to participants. Visual, auditory, and tactile sensations are experienced through both mounted and un-mounted activities.

Emotional – The success of overcoming fear and anxiety and the ability to achieve riding and other related skills help individuals realize self-worth and increase self-esteem. The horse is an empathetic creature; the companion animal bonding as well as the development of new skills is a critical component to the success of the experience offered. The relationships developed between participants, volunteers, horses, and staff are all an integral part of the positive emotional experience provided by a therapeutic riding program.

Cognitive – The horse provides a strong motivator for participants. Riding lessons incorporate activities and games on horseback designed to help achieve specific goals such as following multi-step directions, staying on task, color and number recognition, memorization, and sequencing, to name a few.

Social – Therapeutic riding programs and their associated activities provide an excellent opportunity for participants to interact with their peers, program volunteers and staff in a positive and enjoyable environment.


We can also include unmounted equine activities in your program, such as ground activities, grooming and stable management, all skills beneficial to the complete riding and horsemanship experience.


“A physical, cognitive or emotional special need does not limit a person from interacting with horses. Research shows that individuals of all ages who participate in EAAT, including Therapeutic Riding, can experience many physical and emotional rewards.”

(Reference: PATH Intl. “Parents and Professionals Resource Guide”)