According to the Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International), Equestrian Therapy and Equine Awareness services are widely recognized as one of the most beneficial forms of therapy for those with disabilities.
One of the few treatment programs of its kind in Pennsylvania, we at Verland are proud to provide this service for our individuals’ physical, occupational, and psychological growth within a recreational setting.
Initially established through a generous donation, Verland’s stable complex was designed specifically for our client population and is home to horses, miniature donkeys, dwarf goats, and a cat. Therapies take place all year round, either outside or in our climate-controlled indoor arena. An easily-accessible wheelchair ramp/mounting area and a mechanical lift system in the ceiling make it safe and easy to get riders on and off the horses. Our arena is also equipped with an Equicizer, a mechanical horse, as an alternative modality.
Through initial screening and intensive training, the Equestrian Therapy team ensures all animals have the most suitable temperament. Our individuals are initially evaluated by our Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor who then designs and implements the individual’s customized treatment plan.
The varied benefits of Equestrian Therapy stem from the natural movement of the horse, which mimics a person’s motion while walking and helps aid in relaxing muscles and increasing their balance and flexibility. Interaction with the staff, horses, and the other animals helps participants to develop and improve interaction and socialization skills. Other benefits include improved muscle tone, heightening of senses, increased sense of control, and stimulating weakened muscles.
Our Equine Awareness program is another unique aspect of the services offered to our individuals. This therapy allows them to assist in the everyday care of the stables, horses, and other animals. The individuals help with modified chores, including but not limited to, feeding and grooming the horses and donkeys and cleaning stables. Special equipment is modified and used, as necessary.