What Is Therapeutic Riding?
Therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs.
A disability does not have to limit a person from riding a horse. In fact, experiencing the motion of a horse can be very therapeutic.
Because horseback riding rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength.
BENEFITS OF THERAPEUTIC RIDING:
- Improved balance and coordination
- Increased muscle tone and strength
- Improved respiration and circulation
- Movement of the equine rhythmically soothes the nervous system
- Sensory integration
- Improved appetite and digestion
- Improved self-confidence
- Increased interest in the outside world
- Emotional control and self-discipline
- Autonomy and sense of mastery
- Development of respect and love of animals
- Increased experience and opportunities
- Math and Counting
- Sequencing, patterning and motor planning
- Improved eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills
- Visual/spatial perception Life skills
At Blue Sky
Riders participate in a variety of horsemanship activities including grooming, tacking, and coaching a horse through patterns, over and around obstacles. Our clients get to experience the personalities of our horses and learn valuable life skills. We believe that our riders are capable of incredible things, and our horses know it!
All instructors at Blue Sky are certified therapeutic riding instructors, credentialed by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, an internationally recognized organization dedicated to industry standards and best practices for therapeutic horseback riding for children and adults with special needs and disabilities.
Carriage Driving is a fast growing sport. Therapeutic Driving can offer students with physical, mental, sensory, or emotional disabilities the rewards of interaction and control of a horse or pony while driving from a carriage seat or in their own wheelchair in a carriage modified to accommodate their wheelchair. Carriage driving gives participants a riding alternative, opening up the world of horses to those who may be unable to ride due to weight, balance, fatigue, allergies, asthma, fear of heights, the inability to sit astride, or other issues. It can also provide the student with a unique movement experience.
Therapeutic driving is about imparting knowledge of safety, horses, harnessing, and driving skills to children and adults using teamwork. It takes three to five volunteers to make one driving turn out! Drivers with a disability who are interested in competing are welcome at traditional carriage driving competitions, such as pleasure driving and combined driving events, where they compete on an equal footing with able bodied competitors.
Therapeutic Driving lessons are instructed by a PATH International Certified Therapeutic Driving Instructor
How long is a lesson?
Typically each rider comes once a week for a one hour start to finish lesson. This includes 15 minutes for tacking, 30 minutes of riding and 15 minutes to untack. The instructor has the discretion to stop a lesson early if they feel the client is at risk, especially in extreme temperatures.
How much does a lesson cost?
Blue Sky has a suggested lesson fee of $40 per lesson.
Are there scholarships available?
Yes. We don’t ever want the cost of riding lessons to be a burden to our families, and no one is ever turned away due to inability to pay. We ask that our families do the very best they can…we simply ask that they be consistent in their payments. Also, we ask that families on scholarship be willing to volunteer when needed and if the situation allows
Does blue sky have individual or group lessons?
Both! Depending on your child’s level and need we offer both individual or group lessons…with no more than two riders in a lesson at a time.
My child sometimes has behaviors that has limited their acceptance into other programs and opportunities
Our goal is to never turn anyone away due to behaviors. We work closely with our families to help each client participate safely at Blue Sky. We will work with outside resources to best serve your child, including behavior specialists, ABA therapist, and TEACCH specialist.
We maintain a safe, happy and healthy environment at Blue Sky. We have implemented a closed environment and evacuation protocol if aggressive behaviors occur, in order to keep other clients and volunteers safe.
What age can my child start riding lessons?
At Blue Sky we follow PATH Intl’s recommendation of 5 years of age.
Does Blue Sky bill insurance?
No, not at this time.
What’s the difference in therapeutic riding and hippotherapy?
Hippotherapy is when an occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist, or speech language pathologist use horses as a tool or strategy to provide therapy.
At Blue we do consult with speech and occupation therapist to best serve our clients, but our certified therapeutic riding instructors are not hippotherapists.
Who owns blue sky?
Blue Sky is a 501(c)3 non profit that is an entity in itself. Our property, horses, facilities or organization is not owned by any one person. Blue Sky is overseen by a board of directors that are actively involved in the day to day operations.
How do i get my child started riding or driving?
Simply contact our Client Services Coordinator, Olivia DiStasio, and she will get you set up for a tour and all the needed paperwork.
How do I volunteer for the horse program?
Contact our volunteer coordinator, Jennifer Mathis. She will help you get plugged into the perfect spot.