Therapeutic riding has been shown to help facilitate the confidence, self-esteem and problem solving skills of children and adults with physical, emotional and / or learning disabilities.
The curriculum for the program, which takes place at Riding to the Top’s facility in Windham, Maine, focuses on specific recovery skills such as relating to others in healthy ways, identifying thinking distortions and managing feelings without using drugs or alcohol. While the program is still in its early stages, clients have been able to talk about everything from thinking errors and distortions, safety, body language, boundaries, getting needs met, problem solving, strengths, survival skills and relating to others in healthy ways.
Here are some of the things the women have said so far:
“I feel instantly calm when I am near the horses. I have a deep feeling of comfort and relaxation.” (from a woman with severe anxiety)
“I was scared of the horses and didn’t think I’d want to get close to them. But, I wanted to tell my daughter that I touched the horse so she’d be proud of me. And I got to tell her that.”
“I caught myself excuse-making and catastrophizing. I changed my thinking, and I was able to get on the horse.”
“When I was on the horse, I felt proud. I felt myself sitting up taller and relaxing and enjoying the experience.”