...the thrill of riding a horse for persons that have difficulty with mobility, self-control and/or communication. Research shows that people who participate in therapeutic riding can experience physical, emotional and mental rewards. For those individuals who have impaired mobility, horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves their bodies in a manner similar to walking in humans. Riders must continuously contract and relax muscles to balance and re-balance as the horse gently carries them with its swinging gait. Balance, strength and flexibility, combined with a sense of accomplishment, are just some of the positive results we have seen develop in our riders here at Harmony Ranch. Harmony Ranch's therapeutic riding program is specifically designed for the members of our community with mental and physical disabilities. This project was started by local people who are mothers, teachers, caregivers, therapists, and many others who have seen a big need and wanted that need to be met. For those with disabilities, activities that are both physically and emotionally safe can be very limited. Harmony Ranch's therapeutic riding program offers the chance to experience horseback riding and a fulfilling environment where lives are touched and exhilaration thrives.
Harmony Ranch enlists the help of specially trained instructors, horses and equipment, and is operated by a small staff and a dedicated group of volunteers. Our trained volunteers serve in areas as broad and varied as our imaginations permit. At Harmony Ranch we have volunteer positions available in every capacity from grooming and stable mucking to office work and weed control!
Coeur D’Alene, Post falls, Rathdrum, Idaho Path International certified instructors Operating in North Idaho since 2004
History of Therapeutic Riding…
The human body was created to move. We reach, we stretch, we bend and we run. Medical experts tell us that it is healthy for us to walk miles every day or participate in some form physical exercise. Movement relaxes us and fills our bodies with oxygen. Exercise is good for us physically, spiritually and emotionally. However, for many who have physical and emotional disabilities, activities that provide sufficient physical movement can be very limited and their lives become very sedentary. Therapeutic horseback riding programs in one form or another have been around for a very long time. Some experts believe that this knowledge dates back to approximately 400BC. Hippocrates in one of his writings lauded horseback riding as a form of natural exercise. In 1569 the Italian author Merkurialis wrote about the benefits of riding in, "The Art of Gymnastics." Two hundred years later French author Tissot states in his book "Medical and Surgical Gymnastics" that riding at the walk is 'a most beneficial gait.' Although physical therapy using the movement of horses as its source has been considered to be beneficial to humans for thousands of years, it was not until the mid 20th century that equine therapy was catapulted into the medical limelight. In 1952, when a young woman from Denmark named Liz Hartel (who suffered lower extremity paralysis from polio) won a silver medal in Grand Pris Dressage at the Helsinki Olympic Games, equine therapy finally gained the recognition that it needed to become the force that we see today. Pilot programs for equine assisted therapy could suddenly be found popping up throughout Europe and America. Today, with groups like North American Riders for the Handicapped Association (NARHA), Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA) and Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA_ UK), there has been a worldwide movement towards horses in assisted therapy. Equine assisted therapy has been heralded as the catalyst of breakthrough for many, many people. The soothing rhythmic walk of a horse as it moves the human torso gently strengthens and tones the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the entire body. Riding improves balance and posture, and becomes an experience that stimulates both mind and body. Equine assisted activities build communication, self-esteem, teamwork, sequential thinking and problem solving. The freedom and sense of well being experienced by riders in any therapeutic riding center is matched only by the joy of those who are able to witness the interaction of humans and horses. Please come join the fun and become a part of what we are doing at Harmony Ranch.