Horses have been used for therapeutic purposes for decades, changing the lives of people and, for some, opening up new possibilities. Therapeutic driving gives people an alternative to riding. This type of therapy brings the therapeutic benefits of horses to a wider range of people who may not be able to ride due to weight, balance, physical limitations, and other impediments. It is great for all people, not just those with physical limitations, but for people with mental and emotional limitations as well.
Through Therapeutic Driving, participants learn about horses, safety, harnessing, and driving skills. This all provides students with a wide range of movements and a lot of sensorimotor experiences. It also encourages teamwork as the student and certified instructor work together to help communicate and drive the horse. The connection between the driver and horse also teaches cause and effect scenarios which is a beneficial learning tool for many participants.
Therapeutic driving carriages are often altered in a way that can accommodate a wheelchair or other mobility assistance equipment. Usually, a seat or two will be taken out and special reinforcements added to keep the participants in wheelchairs safe from moving while the carriage is in motion. If the participant is not bound to a wheelchair, original seats are still customized to allow for more comfort and safety, such as lap belt additions. The horses used for Therapeutic Driving can range in breed, size, and age. Many Therapeutic Driving horses used to have a successful driving career in their past and now enjoy the slower pace of participating in therapy later in their lives. The important thing about these horses is that they are well-trained to specific commands, have previous driving experience, a calm demeanor, and steady gaits.
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