Horseback Riding for Individuals with Disabilities: Programs, Philosophy, and Research

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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  • 1 Washington State University
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Although historical mention of horseback riding for individuals with disabilities can be traced through the centuries, programs of therapeutic riding were not established until the mid-1900s. Since its inception, horseback riding for the disabled has become diversified and increasingly sophisticated. As a result, the programs have a varying emphasis on riding as sport, recreation, education, or therapy. The literature contains articles describing therapeutic riding programs that include claims of medical and educational benefits for participants. Although the programs have existed for 30 years, interest in research on the benefits of horseback riding for the disabled is relatively new. Despite the progress made, it is critical that professionals in horseback riding for individuals with disabilities (a) collect empirical evidence supporting the claimed benefits, (b) develop appropriate evaluation instruments/tools, (c) identify effective intervention techniques, (d) provide for accessibility of publications/information from Europe, and (e) develop printed materials and audiovisuals for the health professional community.

Request reprints from Dr. Karen P. DePauw, Dept. of Physical Education, Sport, & Leisure Studies, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-1410.

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