Horse Therapy For The Disabled

The Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center has grown leaps and bounds, helping people with all kinds of disabilities through equine-assisted therapy, otherwise known as hippotherapy.

Founded in 2008, the CSTRC has grown from three students to around 67. People suffering from a variety of problems come for help, including autism, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, blindness, deafness, Down syndrome, cancer, muscular dystrophy and neurological diseases.

The American Hippotherapy Association, now accepted by the medical community, says that horses’ movements give riders subtle signals that stimulate adjustments to retain balance and prompt rhythmic movements similar to walking. It is supposed to help with balance, coordination, perception, and core strength and muscle tone.

The therapy not only has physical benefits, but also leaves the patients happier. Speaking of an autistic boy who had a hard day at school, co-founder Nancy Harrison said, “The whole half-hour of the lesson, he just talked to the horse. He just told him all of the troubles. The instructor said, ‘This stays here.’ So it helps the kids open up with their feelings.”

With the help of 150 volunteers, the center hopes to keep helping anyone who needs it, regardless of their financial situation.

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