Windridge’s Therapeutic Riding Program is an innovative and highly beneficial activity that relies on the horse’s movement for therapeutic benefits and exercise as the participant is taught equestrian skills by a PATH Intl. certified riding instructor.
The therapeutic benefits the rider’s body receives from the horse’s three-dimensional movement includes weight bearing through limbs and joints, extension and flexion of the spine, rotation of the human pelvis, sensory stimulation, and improved muscle tone. All are vital to a child or adult with a disability as their exposure to physical exercise is often limited. In addition to receiving therapy benefits and improving life skills, participants gain equestrian skills that enable them to learn to ride a horse at all gaits, trail ride and if they so choose work towards different skills such as jumping.
Furthermore, participants are given the opportunity to enjoy interaction with their instructors, peers and volunteers, as well as caring for their horse.
Many companions never have fewer than four feet.
It is quite astonishing that the driving of horses in harness, which is the most ancient of all equestrian sports is one of the newest, fastest-growing horse activities in the equestrian world, both in competition and in the therapeutic horsemanship industry.
Windridge strives to serve children and adults individually. For some participants, riding a horse is not advisable. For instance, some men or women may have a degenerative disease that prevents them from sitting astride a horse safely, or someone may prefer to drive a horse drawn carriage rather than to ride a horse.
Participants are taught by a PATH International Certified Driving Instructor. Volunteers are an equally important component to the success of a driving class. Volunteers must undergo specialized training to gain the skills necessary to assist with harnessing the horses, putting the horse to the vehicle and aiding the participant in the vehicle.
Participants learn to groom and harness their horse as well as care for the horse after class time. The therapeutic benefits received by a participant are significant. For example, the action of the vehicle aids in joint compression and sensory stimulation.
Though driving a horse drawn vehicle can be thought of as one of the oldest activities in the equestrian event world, it has earned an important role in the world of equine-assisted activities and therapies.
“The horse is an extension of ourselves for through them we can go where we never could on our own.”
Hippotherapy Program – “Hippo” is the Greek word for horse, so hippotherapy is “therapy with the help of the horse”. The horse’s movement is utilized by physical, occupational and speech therapists as a means to help clients work toward their therapy goals in a fun, active and motivating environment. Windridge and Kidz First Therapy collaborate efforts to provide hippotherapy to children with a wide variety of diagnoses.
Unlike in the therapeutic riding program, equestrian skills are not a focus in hippotherapy. It is simply therapy that uses the unique movement of the horse as a treatment strategy. The repetitive three-dimensional movement influences multiple systems throughout the body (neurological, muscular, cardiovascular, sensory, respiratory, emotional, visual, etc.) at the same time, making hippotherapy a powerful and effective tool.
It has been proven that a horse takes approximately 3,000 steps at the walk in 30 minutes. This means a child can receive 3,000 repetitions of natural therapeutic movement that cannot be duplicated in any other traditional therapy setting. Additionally, positions and activities directed by the therapists help optimize the effects of the movement specifically for each child’s needs.
Hippotherapy is provided two days a week by Kidz First Therapy and Windridge. The therapists are American Hippotherapy Assoc. Level I and II certified therapists and/or board certified Hippotherapy Clinical Specialists (HPCS). They are supported by Windridge’s PATH International certified instructors and volunteers. The horses are specifically trained and selected for use in this program, as well as for each child. Visit Windridge sometime and learn what hippotherapy is all about and see the smiling faces of children enjoying their therapy!
If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power,
but for the passionate sense of potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible.
- Soren Kierkegaard
Our nation’s freedom is preserved at a high cost by the men and women of our armed services and their families. From the beginning, Windridge has offered its programs to service personnel who have acquired a disability while in active duty or later in life. Veterans who fought in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm have benefited from Windridge’s equine-assisted activities and therapy programs.
In 2010 Windridge rallied behind PATH International’s efforts to strengthen our veteran program with the development of Equine Services for Heroes. Today Windridge seeks to be a part of the therapy and recreation needed by the young men and women who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
Courage, wisdom born of insight and humility, empathy born of compassion and love, all can be bequeathed by a horse to his rider.
– Charles de Kunffy
Educational Program – Therapeutic and Equine Mastery: From our first year Windridge has provided the education that individuals need to qualify for their PATH Intl. therapeutic riding instructor certification and/or increase their knowledge of therapeutic riding.
This multi-faceted program is unique in several ways, including:
Education for Windridge’s instructor and equine staff.
Opportunities for college student rotations and internships.
Writing and producing educational materials for several educational settings including therapeutic horsemanship and equine industries and university equine courses.
In 2006 Windridge completed development of an educational equine training film available in DVD and web cast format. This film is titled Standard of Behavior for Horse and Horseman – Ground Schooling. This is the first of a three film series designed to enhance the education of therapeutic riding instructors and equine handlers throughout the equine industry. The film is also designed to be utilized in therapeutic instructor training programs and university’s Hippotherapy and equine science programs across the United States. A course syllabus, workbook and tests complete the educational materials offered.
Horses can educate through first hand, subjective and personal experiences.
Horses can build character, not merely urge one to improve on it.
Horses forge the mind, the character, the emotions and inner lives of humans . . .
In partnership with a horse, one is seldom lacking for thought, emotion and inspiration.
– Charles de Kunffy
It is a fact that the three-dimensional movement produced by a horse at the walk benefits children and adults with disabilities. It’s also understood this movement cannot be duplicated by a machine nor techniques used in traditional therapies. Nonetheless, the horse’s movement has yet to be authenticated scientifically as a therapy tool.
The purpose for Windridge’s Research Program is to authenticate scientifically the therapeutic benefits the horse’s three dimensional movement provides children and adults with disabilities as well as disabled veterans. In 2009 Windridge built a research room furnished with the necessary equipment to conduct innovative research projects.
Since then Windridge purchased a motion capture system from PhaseSpace to collect data. In November of 2012 Senior Research Engineer, Cameron Nott, PhD, employed with Orbis, Inc., developed the software that will interpret the data collected with the motion capture system.
Dr. Nott wrote the following comments about Windridge’s research efforts.
The Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center of East Texas, under direction of Margo Dewkett, has procured hardware and software products essential to establishing a state-of-the art bio-mechanical research facility. Furthermore, the systems have already been used to collect preliminary data to validate, improve, and quantify the benefits of hippotherapy. The system utilizes illuminated markers that are placed on anatomical landmarks of a horse and rider to establish their movement and interaction. The spatial information of these markers is acquired by a computer running software that applies a bio-mechanical model of the riders torso, head, and thighs and also the horses pelvis. Synchronized with the acquisition of this data is information from a pressure switch under the horse’s hoof which provides spatiotemporal data regarding the horses movement.
For preliminary studies, the system has been used to collect data which to quantify the effects three different handling techniques has on the horse’s three-dimensional movement at the walk, used in hippotherapy, and how these methods influence the human body. Handling techniques include leading a horse at the casual walk and working walk as well as long lining the horse at a working walk. These methods will be compared to the horse’s skeletal carriage when walking on an equine treadmill. Variables to be analyzed for the different equine handling techniques will be the effects of the human’s lumber spine range of motion and velocity, head movement and stability, core strength and consequent trunk stability, pelvis motion of the rider, and pelvis motion of the horse. It is expected that the variability of these variables can be influenced according to therapist specifications based on horse handling techniques. Long term goals are to bio-mechanically prove the effects of the therapy that therapists, patients, and families of patients have confirmed subjectively already.
To be content is a hidden treasure, to explore adds wealth to one’s contentment.