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Adaptive Horsemanship

The STRC adaptive riding program teaches the skill of riding to individuals with disabilities and uses the added benefit of horse movement, coordination, and personal awareness to help develop skills and strength in their daily lives.


Clients of Redwood Coast Regional Center (RCRC) can request to have Adaptive Horsemanship services included in their IPP (Individualized Program Plan) to have the costs covered by RCRC.

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How Adaptive Horsemanship Works


The rhythmic movement of a horse moves the rider’s body in the same way as the human walking gait. The warmth and movement of the horse helps to slowly relax tightened muscles and ligaments (as in clients with cerebral palsy), strengthen low tone muscles (as in clients with Down Syndrome), and provides the freedom of movement and the sensation of walking for those who use a wheelchair or other mobility device.



The natural herd mentality of the horses makes them experts in non-verbal communication. Through their large size and non-verbal responses to their environment and those they work with, they teach non-verbal communication and, consequently, self-awareness. Using horses has been a proven tool in reaching individuals with autism, PTSD, and other communication differences.



The passive movement of the horse is an excellent aid in teaching new skills and learning by stimulating the brain to help encourage focus and concentration. Riding also helps teach eye-hand coordination and differentiating left-side and right-side communication.


All lessons are taught under the direction of a certified Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) instructor to ensure that the highest level of safety and learning can be achieved in each session.



Hippotherapy has been offered at the STRC facility with a licensed hippotherapist through a partnership with Adventist Health Physical Therapy. However, this program is currently on hold and we hope to start up again in the future.

What is Hippotherapy?

According to the American Hippotherapy Association, the term hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practices and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement as a therapy tool to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes.


Best practice dictates that occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology professionals integrate hippotherapy into the patient’s plan of care, along with other therapy tools and/or strategies.

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