groundwork in therapeutic riding lessons - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 02-28-2015, 06:11 AM Thread Starter
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groundwork in therapeutic riding lessons

I just wanted to know your opinion about doing a lot of Natural Horsemanship groundwork in the therapeutic riding lessons. It may give the kids more confidence in their selves and the horse and helps them to get a good communication with the horse. So they develop a better feeling for how to deal with horses, as there are clear structures even if every horse is different. Iíve also seen a lot of kids having great fun and being very proud of what they have achieved.

So what do you think about doing groundwork every second lesson?
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post #2 of 7 Old 02-28-2015, 09:40 AM
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What do you mean by therapeutic riding? Do the children have physical disabilities, cognitive disorders, ect?

I think it would depend on the child and their motivation. If all they want to do is ride then I would think the motivation for groundwork would be less. Maybe you could work a little groundwork into each lesson prior to riding. They would know the riding part is coming and be more motivated.

Depending upon the abilities and ages of the children, and personalities of the horses, some types of groundwork may be very difficult for them to have success with, and cause frustration.

All that said I am a fan of groundwork. When I have my kids do groundwork I make it as interesting as possible setting up obstacles, playing Simon says, red light green light, and make it fun for them.
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-01-2015, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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They mainly have cognitive disorders but also other disabilities. I quite like the idea of combining groundwork and riding in one lesson…
We don’t do groundwork with every children (sometimes it wouldn’t make any sense, as you’ve already said…)
So do you think the kids benefit from groundwork as much as from riding? Or do they profit more by just riding?
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-01-2015, 07:02 PM
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If the riding itself is just to help them deal with disabilities then they might not want to do groundwork - if the children that are physically and mentally able are interested in the whole horsey package then why not dedicate 10 to 15 minutes at the start or end of the lesson to groundwork or basic handling skills like grooming?
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-02-2015, 10:48 AM
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I think there could be a role for groundwork or unmounted activities, although it would be an individual decision based on your participants' goals.

Strides Magazine, the publication of PATH International, had a nice issue on groundwork and unmounted therapeutic lessons in Summer 2014. I'm linking to the PDF of the issue here, you should be able to download and read through it to figure out if any of these ideas would work for your program (I'm not totally sure if non-members of PATH will be able to view the link, so if not, feel free to PM me and I can email you a PDF version). Several of the articles assume you have a trained therapist working with your participants, so not sure if that is your case or not.

Here are a couple of lesson ideas from the "Lessons in Therapeutic Riding" website, which I like:

My program includes grooming, tacking, untacking, and when appropriate, turnout as part of our standard lesson cycle for almost all riders (unless physically not possible). Personally, I feel that they get a ton out of the grooming- it may not be the same benefits they get from the physical motion of the horse, but I think it is extremely important to have all riders invested in the care of their "partner." However, I have been to many premier programs where this is not a part of their process- the horse arrives fully tacked and ready to ride at the mounting block, the rider rides, and when the lesson ends, the horse is led away to be untacked by volunteers. I personally don't think I'd enjoy working in that kind of program as much.
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post #6 of 7 Old 03-02-2015, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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I really like the website too! Thanks for posting the link...
I just skimmed over the publication of PATH, but it sounds very interesting. I'll take the time to read it all...
In my opinion taking care of the horse (grooming,...) helps the kids to get to know the horse and to see them as partners.
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post #7 of 7 Old 03-07-2015, 08:59 PM
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When I worked at a therapeutic riding centre the students who were able to did all their own grooming, tacking up, etc. They would also lead their own horses out to the arena for their lesson. That was the "groundwork" they did- the horses were all very well-trained older horses so that was all that was necessary. It did seem to give the kids more confidence though, and more of a bond with the horse.
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