What is Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic riding is used to teach horseback riding skills to people with disabilities.  Working with horses not only provides students with riding skills and physical development opportunities but also fosters growth in compassion, confidence, responsibility, leadership, vocational, social and education skills.

Therapeutic Riding has a rich history going back to 600 BC with documentation of people with disabilities riding horses to improve function and mobility.

Therapeutic Riding Timeline:

  • 1569 – Merkurialis “The Art of Gymnastics” discussed the effects of riding on the restoration and maintenance of health
  • 1875 – First report (Cassaign) of riding being helpful in treatment of neurological disorders, increasing balance, movement and psychological status
  •  WWI – riding programs provided for soldiers disabled in battle
  • 1950’s – UK and Scandinavian physiotherapists using riding for various disabilities (polio, amputees, etc)
  • 1959 – British Riding for the Disabled Association
  • 1960 – Therapeutic riding comes to Canada and US
  • 1969 – NARHA, North Am Riding for the Handicapped Association –  therapeutic guidelines, certification of instructors, accreditation
  • 1980 – CANTRA, Can Therapeutic Riding Association formed
  • 1982 – Victoria Therapeutic Riding Association is formed (formerly VRDA)
  • 1996 – Equestrian sports become part of Paralympic game

About VTRA

VTRA has been operating since 1982, when it was started by a small and extremely dedicated group of visionaries who wanted to bring the proven benefits of therapeutic riding to our community.  Finding a permanent home was a challenge for the program in the early years; in 2009 VTRA was fortunate to be able to set up long term operations at its current location. Its history demonstrates growth from a small, volunteer-only organization to a well-structured charitable agency with an employed staff, consisting of highly trained and experienced professionals.  There is a large pool of committed volunteers who provide most of our program services, working as horse handlers, sidewalkers, assistant instructors, stable hands, helpers in the clubhouse, and board and committee members.  The scope of our activities and the degree of organization have increased over the years, resulting in a substantial enhancement of levels of service and efficacy of our programs.

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