Riding is widely recognized as one of the most beneficial types of therapeutic recreation available. It helps develop self-awareness, builds self-confidence, self-discipline, and improves concentration. Horseback riding also improves posture, balance and coordination, increases joint mobility, strengthens and relaxes muscles.
The fact is, there is no other recreational therapy that can replicate the human gait like therapeutic riding. Riders with learning and developmental challenges work on visual and auditory processing, problem solving, sequencing, verbalization and communication skills during their riding sessions. Riders with physical issues report both physical and emotional benefits from their time on the horse.
Our program gives a feeling of freedom and independence and an awareness of body in space that would be very difficult to obtain by conventional therapy. Exercising the spirit as well as the body provides an enormous boost for volunteers and participants alike.
Therapeutic riding began in Scandinavia shortly after Liz Hartle won the silver medal for Olympic dressage, despite being handicapped by polio. Her success inspired Mrs. Bodthker, a Norwegian therapist to establish a therapeutic riding program for children disabled with polio. This practice soon spread to England in the late 1950's where a center for therapeutic riding was built in Chigwell. It became the center of its kind to be built specifically for therapeutic riding.
In 1969 the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) was formed to coordinate the efforts of those working in this growing field. In 2011 NARHA changed their name to Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Int.). A new name was needed to accurately convey a correct and current image of the important work being done by centers. PATH Intl. functions as an advisory and regulatory body, dedicated to promoting equine-assisted activities for special needs children and adults. Currently, there are more than 800 PATH Intl. certified riding centers in operation in the United States. CORRAL has been a member of PATH Intl. for 23 years, and we recently received our third five-year Premier accreditation. Only 25% of PATH Intl. member centers achieve Premier status, certifying that they uphold and maintain the best practices of the industry.