Saddle Up

Horseback Riding Is Therapeutic and Fun

Therapeutic Horseback Riding lessons

Rachel competes in the Riders with Disabilities Competition at the Chagrin Valley Hunter Jumper Classic in Moreland Hills, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Achievement Centers for Children

When you have a mobility condition, being a kid isn’t always the number one priority. Fun usually comes behind doctor’s appointments, physical therapy and school. But at the Achievement Centers for Children's Camp Cheerful, therapy and fun go hand and hand.

Rachel is one teen who believes that’s true. Through Camp Cheerful’s therapeutic horseback riding sessions, riding has become her passion. The 13-year-old, who is paralyzed from the waist down, is on her sixth year of riding and just won first place in an events at the Chagrin Valley Hunter Jumper Classic in Moreland Hills, Ohio.

While Rachel’s mom has noticed improvements in Rachel’s posture, strength and balance, Rachel is just having fun and being a kid. When she’s on horseback, she isn’t thinking about her disability.

The camp, located in the Cleveland Metroparks, anticipates more than 4,000 riding lessons will be given this year. Participants are children as well as adults with a broad range of disabilities who are assisted by certified therapeutic riding instructors.

"We see individuals with disabilities in our therapeutic riding program build their core muscular strength, improve their balance, and develop friendships with their favorite horse, their instructors and other riders in the program," said Connie Boros, vice president of recreation and sports for the Achievement Centers for Children.

This year’s riding programs are offered March 18-May 18, May 27-July 27, Aug. 5-Oct. 5, and Oct. 21-Dec. 21. Find out more here.

To find other horseback riding programs in your area, visit the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International’s center locator page.