Imagine sitting atop a horse. Can you picture the movement of the horse? Can you picture the feeling of the horse rocking back and forth from side to side?
Your favorite song comes on the radio and you can’t help yourself. Your body automatically starts reacting to the beat. Rhythm is contagious and might make you want to tap your toe, snap your fingers, move your arms, or bob your head. But have you ever thought about how your body knows how to move to the rhythm of that song?
For children or adults with Dyspraxia or Development Coordination Disorder (DCD), tapping or clapping to a rhythm can be challenging since the condition affects the organization and planning of movement. A delay, or disjoint in relaying information between the left and right side of the brain that would produce smooth motor function, gets disrupted for a person with DCD. But put someone with DCD on a horse, and those delays can begin to shift!
The horses gait has 2 beat, 3 beat, and 4 beat rhythms.Combining the physical and audio-visual rhythm of the horse’s gait supports memory, attention, and cognition stimulation as well as performance velocity and correct motion pattern synchronization (Hession, et al. 2013, 5.) In other words, the rider is having a felt experience while riding that helps them find their timing, walking gait and cadence.
The horse’s rhythmic gait not only support improved cognition, but riding can also support increased trunk control, coordination, muscle tone, awareness, posture, balance, weight transference, relaxation and tensed muscles. Sometimes gradual improvement takes place over time for our Swiftsure Ranch riders, but many of our instructors have witnessed seemingly overnight breakthroughs in a rider’s goal progression. Finding the rhythm of the horse may be a small feat for most people, but for some of our riders, it’s a humbling miracle.
Learn more about how equine therapy can improve cognition in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, in the study done by Caren E. Hession et. al. titled “Therapeutic Horse Riding Improves Cognition, Mood Arousal, Ambulation in Children with Dyspraxia (2013, pp. 1-5).”
Here’s a thought. Idaho Gives, the largest fundraiser celebrating Idaho nonprofits, is right around the corner, MAY 5th! This could be a perfect opportunity to give the rhythm of the horse as a gift to Swiftsure Ranch riders! If this sounds like the toe-tapping opportunity you were looking for, please go to IDAHOGIVES.ORG and choose your favorite Idaho nonprofit, or Swiftsure Ranch, and share the love on MAY 5th!
Thank you for your interest in Swiftsure Ranch.
~Lacey Heward, PR Coordinator at Swiftsure Ranch