A Look At Therapeutic Riding

By Phil Riddle 

The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a rider 

Though not a cowboy by any stretch, Winston Churchill is famous around these parts for his belief in the therapeutic value of equine companionship.

“There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man,” Great Britain’s iconic statesman said. Shelby Thiebaud knows that is true. She has been doing horseback therapy since she was a girl.

“Horses give so much feedback,” said Thiebaud, coordinator of Tarleton State’s Equine Assisted Therapeutic Riding program (TREAT). “I never would have thought of horses as a therapy but, when I think back on growing up, on my worst days, when I would come home after a bad day at school or life as a teenage girl got hard, that’s what I would do. I would ride.

“I didn’t think of it like that, but now I know that’s what I was doing for myself.” Now she’s helping others who need saddle time.
Tarleton’s equine therapy program provides horseback experience for children, adults who have special needs and clients dealing with various disabilities.

The program uses the rhythmic motion of riding a horse to help children with Asperger’s syndrome and autism. The horse’s motion allows the young patients to concentrate on the movement, which in turn enables them to focus better.

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