Programs

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Adaptive horseback riding is a recreational activity that teaches horseback riding skills that are adapted to each individual’s abilities and goals. Lessons are fun and educational and incorporate activities that build horseback riding skills along with confidence, core strength, and social skills, gross and fine motor skills, eye/hand coordination, balance, problem-solving skills, and sensory integration.

Horseback riding is inherently a therapeutic activity that additionally offers the physically challenged rider benefits due to the horse’s multi-dimensional movement. When a person sits on a horse the movement of the horse walking mimics the gait of a person walking in the rider’s pelvis and core. This movement is what enhances physical strength, increased range of motion and improved posture.  In an adaptive therapeutic horseback riding lesson, educational opportunities are incorporated using activities designed to reach their goals. If a rider’s goal is counting the instructor may have the rider play the dice game. 

 

During the dice game, the rider counts the dots, tells the horse to take that many steps then asks the horse to stop.  Playing this simple game the rider is counting with one-on-one correspondence then feeling that movement in their body and counting, using their verbal skills and horseback riding skills. Riders may have Autism, Asperger’s, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Fragile X, developmental delays, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorder, and traumatic brain injury. Horseback riding offers benefits for every rider.

 

Riding with HEART’s instructors are Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International (PATH). http://www.pathintl.org. Riding with HEART’s instructors are First Aid and CPR certified and maintain their certification through ongoing training and continuing education credits each year.

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Equine-assisted-learning (EAL) is an experiential learning approach that promotes the development of life skills for educational, professional and personal goals through equine-assisted activities. In an EAL setting, the experiential approach integrates equine-human interaction to meet the identified goals or desires of the participant(s). Working with equines provides opportunities to teach critical life skills such as trust, respect, honesty, and communication. Equines use non-vocal communication and are in-tune with human behavior. This can help participants to better understand and learn how our non-verbal communication might be impacting or influencing others in their lives. Equines require people to be aware of their surroundings at all times.


Through interactions with the equines, participants achieve heightened self-awareness. Self-awareness is important, revealing patterns of behavior and allows participants to think in a new way. Participants gain self-esteem and self-confidence while learning how to work with such a large and powerful creature. They offer us the opportunity to experience humility, compassion, and challenge - all critical elements to supporting self-growth and self-awareness.

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The BraveHEARTs Equine Assisted Learning Program serves members of all branches of the military, veteran and active-duty members as well as all law enforcement and first responders and their families.

The BraveHEARTs Program focuses not only on the service member or first responder but their family as well. We offer a collaborative approach towards Equine Assisted Learning with the entire family in mind. The team includes the veteran, police or first responders and their families (if they so choose) and finally the horse partner as the teacher. Horses have highly developed senses and offer a mirror into ourselves as we interact with them. The session is led by an Equine Specialist who guides the participants through the learning process safely. Ground-work, as well as mounted activities with the horse, create a natural opportunity to overcome fear and develop self-confidence. Learning, bonding and enjoying time within the equine/human team is the ultimate goal.

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According to the American Hippotherapy Association, Inc., ”The term Hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech and language professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes.
 
In conjunction with the affordances of the equine environment and other treatment strategies, hippotherapy is part of a patient’s integrated plan of care”.

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