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promoting independence, building strength and coordination, improving cognitive processing and fostering social skills.
Therapeutic Riding Programs
All Swiftsure equestrian programs fall under the Therapeutic Riding discipline. Individuals participate in weekly riding sessions focused on learning horsemanship skills which promote independence, build strength and coordination, improve cognitive processing and foster social skills. Participants build skills and work toward practical goals such as going on a trail ride, competing in a horse show, learning to jump or learning to herd cows. The following are therapeutic riding special programs offered to Swiftsure participants who qualify. Please see program descriptions below for more detailed information.
Blaine County School Program
During the school year, Swiftsure provides an equine-assisted learning classroom for students in a special education program or on an individualized education program (IEP). Over 40 students from seven classrooms participate in therapeutic riding weekly, working towards their IEP goals. Students learn complete horsemanship skills both on the ground and while mounted.
Individual lessons are fantastic for riders that are just beginning their journey into EAAT (Equine-Assisted Activities & Therapies) or riders that are needing more specialized attention. For example, a rider with muscle dystrophy will need more focus on maintaining strength through strategically-planned patterns, warm ups, etc.; for this rider, an individual lesson proves to be more beneficial for their specific goals. Although riders are the only rider in the lesson, they are still reaping all the benefits of being a Swiftsure Ranch participant – socialization with staff & volunteers, confidence building, emotional care, etc.
Group lessons at Swiftsure Ranch give participants the opportunity to grow themselves within a social setting. This type of environment promotes healthy social interactions, self-respect, team-based problem solving, and so much more! In these lessons, participants work on their own individual goals while also contributing to the success of their group’s goals. The focus of these goals include both riding and life skills – we’re hoping to encourage positive, safe life choices outside of the ranch through repetition of these skills.
For our riders under the age of 4 and in special circumstances, some older riders, Swiftsure works with licensed therapists that specializes in physical, occupational or speech and language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement. Hippotherapy literally means “treatment with the help of the horse” from the Greek word, “hippos” meaning horse. This treatment strategy is used as part of an integrated treatment program to achieve functional goals. The goals for these sessions are physical therapy goals, and again, differ from therapeutic riding goals. The sessions are led by the hippotherapist with assistance from trained staff and volunteers.
Swiftsure fills a gap for teens with social or behavioral issues who may need direction and support in a safe, structured environment. Through work projects and team-building exercises, participants gain social interaction skills, responsibility, and accountability. Each teen establishes personal goals and pursues them in partnership with our equines. Weekly riding lessons add horsemanship skills, building confidence and self-esteem. Upon successful completion, ranch hands receive a stipend and a notable achievement to add to their resume.
Swiftsure provides equine-assisted activities for individuals participating in associated programs throughout southern Idaho. Participants at Camp Rainbow Gold, the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind, Higher Ground, Dreams Come True, and Boise VA Programs all have the opportunity to participate in equine-assisted activities throughout the year, either at the ranch or elsewhere in the valley.
Swiftsure is the forerunner in adaptive riding equipment design. This research is available to other therapeutic riding centers and individuals worldwide. Our design for western saddles adapted to help challenged individuals ride with greater independence is published in the textbook, Therapeutic Riding, Strategies for Instruction and Rehabilitation edited by Barbara Engel.
Community Service Program
Suspended or expelled Blaine County School students are referred to Swiftsure Ranch to perform community service. These students learn life skills and improve accountability in a safe, positive environment by assisting with therapeutic riding lessons and performing maintenance chores.