SIRE serves adults and children with a wide variety of disabilities including, but not limited to cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, developmental delay, attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.
Therapeutic horseback riding is the basic activity and provides training in traditional horsemanship skills such as English and Western styles of riding based on the unique therapy goals of each rider. Because SIRE offers such variety, we can adapt to the needs and goals of the individual. We can not only customize a therapy program, but also help the riders meet their personal recreational goals through competition in riding, vaulting and carriage driving. In therapeutic horseback riding, the rider learns to influence the movement of the horse.
Hippotherapy is a clinical specialty that differs from therapeutic riding — in Hippotherapy, the movement of the horse influences the movement of the rider. A specially trained therapist (a licensed physical or occupational therapist) evaluates the client, develops specific therapy goals, and works one-on-one with the client. The difference is that the rider does not affect the movement of the horse. The therapist uses the horse for facilitating the movements and postures for the client. This quality of movement from the horse is the premise for hippotherapy. This is, therefore, a specialized form of medical treatment when a trained therapist develops a care plan for their client using the horse as their primary method of treatment.
Vaulting is comparable to gymnastics on horseback. These riders benefit from improved balance, coordination, greater gravitational security, enhanced ability to locate where they are in space, and improved memory sequencing. The motion of the horse provides sensory motor input to the riders’ nervous system that augments the challenge of the vaulting positions.
Mike, a SIRE client, has great difficulty walking and uses both crutches and leg braces. One day, after a particularly good ride, he was heard to comment later how he felt so graceful on the back of a horse. He just wished he could have the same grace while walking.
For people who must use a wheelchair or other walking aids, this feeling of grace and accomplishment is especially meaningful. For those who view the world from a wheelchair, the benefit of being on a horse, taller than anyone else, and being in control of this large animal, is immeasurable in the benefit and feeling of accomplishment.