If you’ve been around horses, you’ll know that these animals have immense power. They have a presence, an energy surrounding them that draws people towards them. More than that, horses have a healing power that’s been recognized across the world and throughout time. We have textual evidence of horses being used to help patients with medical problems since ancient Greece. To this day horses are used in therapy. Happy On Hooves doesn’t offer equine therapy, but we’re pleased to share that our rides and horses have helped several customers find peace of mind and physical renewal. Clinton Williams was one such rider.
Clinton grew up with scoliosis, or a curvature of the spine, which can lead to discomfort and pain in individuals if not treated and conditioned regularly. Throughout his life, Clinton engaged in conventional exercise to relax his muscles and ease any pain. In fact, he grew up horseback riding around his home just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He loved it, and reported to me that horsemanship was his favorite means of exercising his back. Several years later while living in Maryland, Clinton found Happy On Hooves and started attending our rides regularly.
Now, one typically thinks horsemanship wouldn’t be the ideal form of exercise for people with back problems. For some it’s not. However, Clinton related to me that the way in which he moved with his mount on the trail actually stretched his back muscles and provided a good workout that wasn’t overly strenuous: “Whenever I got off (my) horse I felt relaxed, the tension in my muscles was gone.” Remaining upright in the saddle is known to improve posture, one of the reasons why riding is featured in some physical therapies. Clinton believes that riding is like any other exercise: the more work put into it the better the rider will become, which means more physical benefits too.
Here is a video clip of how the horses' movement has a direct influence on a riders' body. Video is not narrated in English but you can turn down the volume and watch how the horses' movement impacts the riders' body.
Physicality was just one of the benefits. Clinton went on to tell me that the experience itself was an immense stress relief. The trail ride gave him the chance to be out in nature and evade his worries for a time. He made friends with several riders, including HOH owner Mandy Manown. Unsurprisingly, Clinton also bonded with the horse he rode, Millie, our draft horse.
Second maybe only to dogs, horses have a very special connection with people. We depend on each other for affection and support. It’s what developed between Clinton and Millie. Of course he also spoiled her with treats after the ride! Clinton looked forward to developing this bond each time he rode, making it a major contributor to his return on our trail rides.
If you’re considering riding as a supplement to your physical recovery, make sure to check with your doctor first, depending on the extent of your pain or injury. There are also specific equine-therapy programs you can investigate for yourself or children. Check out our Horseback Riding As An Outdoor Sport post to learn more details on the physical benefits of riding with us. Whether you seek out our trail rides for simple recreation or healing, it’s our horses that will contribute the most to your experience. Unlike a car, these are living animals that undergo the physical trail with you as your partner. We find more and more that our riders leave refreshed and happier just by interacting with their horses. Ride with us and experience this yourself!