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As a certified therapeutic horseback riding instructor with PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) International, I have always been fascinated with using horses in therapy, the power of this relationship and the way we communicate with them.

PATH International promotes equine assisted services for individuals with special needs. Individuals with physical, cognitive, psychological and emotional challenges find strength, healing and independence through the power of the horse.

Experiencing the rhythmic motion of a horse can be very beneficial. Riding a horse moves the rider's body in a manner similar to a human gait, so riders with physical needs often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength. Sitting on a moving horse, your body moves in time with your horses movement. For those with movement difficulties, this helps to stimulate the connection between the brain and the body. This movement helps stimulate the neural pathways, which boosts brain activity and helps with concentration, gross and fine motor skills and sensory integration.

Horses can be an emotional mirror for humans. They respond to the feeling state we show. Horses are gentle and honest, and can help an individual develop a work ethic, identify and process feelings, help with communication, interpersonal skills, setting boundaries, to overcome fears and learn how to trust. It challenges individuals to look at themselves and the world in a new way.

 

In Addition, riding a horse builds confidence and self esteem. It enables people to be outside, in nature and gain a sense of empowerment. As Winston Churchill said:

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of man". 

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