Throughout the world, hundreds of thousands of individuals with and without special needs experience the rewarding benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). A physical, cognitive or emotional special need does not limit a person from interacting with horses. In fact, such interactions can prove highly rewarding. For instance, experiencing the rhythmic motion of a horse can be very beneficial. Riding a horse moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, so riders with physical needs often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength. Challenged Champions Equestrian Center offers various ways to improve one’s life through equine-assisted activities and therapies. Below is a list of main services we offer. Please scroll down to learn more about each one.
- Recreational / Therapeutic horseback riding Group and private session
- Saddle Up for Success Camps and Group activities
- Community service for individuals and group projects
- Horses for Veterans
Recreational / Therapeutic Horseback Riding
Therapeutic riding has been a recognized therapeutic recreation in the United States since the formation of a national organization, the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association in 1969. Due to the expansion of services being offered by centers associated with this organization the name was changed to Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) in 2010. Research shows that persons with disabilities can experience significant improvements from horseback riding. The most obvious are the physical benefits of improved balance, motor and trunk control, hand-eye coordination, speech, posture and endurance. The horse’s three-dimensional gait simulates normal human walking, which Is very valuable for individuals with impaired mobility. Other obvious benefits include increased self-esteem and confidence that result from accomplishing a challenge, demanding task. The emotional bond that develops between the horse and rider is difficult to explain, but easy to see. Riding has been proven effective as a recreational therapy in the treatment of various disabilities including:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Mental Retardation
- Down Syndrome
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Brain Injuries
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Learning Disabilities
- Spina Bifida
- Sight Impairment
- Hearing Impairment
- Developmental Delay
- Emotional Disabilities
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Challenged Champions offers both group and private sessions for horseback riding. Many of our group classes consisting of four riders per class are held four nights a week in the evenings. Private sessions are scheduled on an individual basis usually due to time schedules and also the needs of the participants.
Four sessions are offered throughout the year:
- Winter Session – 10 Weeks
- Spring Session – 10 Weeks
- Summer Session – 6 Weeks
- Fall Session – 10 Weeks
Saddle Up For Success
This program involves youth to young adult age individuals who may be involved with a big brother, big sister program, an alternative school type program, court ordered probation , or youth who may be recognized as at-risk. New scientific research continues to reveal critical information about equine sentience their abilities of perception, cognition, memory, and emotions such as pain and fear. Equines are able to perceive, respond to and learn from the impressions they receive. In Equine-Assisted Activity sessions or lessons, viewing the equine as a partner invites opportunities for relationship building and skill building with all participants served. Below is a summary of benefits: Social/Relationships: Students have a chance to work together and help one another. They also have the opportunity to develop relationships with, volunteers, riders, and horses they care for. Reflection: At the end of each session, students self-assess their performance, identifying their strengths and opportunities for improvements. Awareness/Focus: Horses talk to us with body language. Learning to listen to a horse’s body language is, in large part, what keeps us safe around these powerful animals. Students learn to be focused, present and “in the moment” when working with horses. Calming: Horses respond favorably to a slow, quiet demeanor and a soft voice. As students become calmer and more soothing, they begin to notice the positive effect their behavior has on the horse. Confidence/Empowerment: The development of the horse/human bond assists students in gaining respect, trust, and leadership skills. Each success empowers them and builds self-esteem, which motivates them to try new things and take an active role in their own education. Some of these students are used as volunteers in the regular classes giving them a self-worth and joy of giving back.
During the summer months Challenged Champions Equestrian Center is host to several different types of camps and are open to changing formats to meet a particular groups needs. Examples include but not limited to: Good Grief Hospice day camps = These individuals are involved in a camp through local hospice programs, who have lost someone special or close to them in varying ways. The hospice programs usually will use the horse program to fill one of their 3-4 days of camp. Hospice programs provide the counselors and the horses provide love and reassurance.
For the emotionally impaired, the fuzzy and friendly quality of horses serves as a marvelous purpose. The petting, grooming, and mounting – all on a horse who stands quietly- then riding in a safe environment, surrounded by people who are caring and friendly, provides a reassuring basis for developmental gains. Boy and Girl Scouts day camps: will come to achieve the requirements for badges that apply to their rank in the scouting program, or just as a fun group function. Happy Birthday: Offers horse crazy kids and opportunity to spend some time at the barn and learn what it takes to own a horse. They are often able to bring a few friends, family, and enjoy their cake and ice cream in our classroom facilities.
Challenged Champions offers opportunities to individuals who have had minor offenses with the probation system. They are allowed to come and volunteer at the farm to serve however many hours they have been required to achieve by a judge. This has also applied to county school systems allowing their students that have received a detention to serve the time at the farm after school hours and not miss any assignments at school in the process Many organizations and individuals that are wishing to perform community service can come and volunteer. This has been a drawing point for those individuals who really just enjoy to volunteer, but can also look good on college applications.
Horses For Veterans
Challenged Champions Equestrian Center has its premier accreditation from PATH ( Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International ) “Appreciating the power of the horse to change lives is our goal’” said Past President, of PATH International, Dr. Paul Spiers , “ and PATH International wants to provide positive change for these very special lives. Our service personnel have fought to preserve our freedom, and , for many, at a very dear cost. WE must be certain that if our wounded service personnel and veterans need and want this kind of help, they will get the best PATH International has to offer.” Challenged Champions Equestrian Center is accepted by PATH International to provide these services.