Texas Tech Therapeutic Riding Center
The mission of the Texas Tech Therapeutic Riding Center is to provide the highest quality of equine-assisted therapy to people with disabilities in the South Plains. Through a collaborative effort of medical and universal professional, our goal is to enhance the quality of life of each person participating in hippotherapy and therapeutic riding. It is further a mission of the program to train students in all aspects of equine-assisted therapy and to contribute to the scientific knowledge in this area through research.
The Texas Tech Therapeutic Riding Center (TTRC) is proud to call the Texas Tech Equestrian Center home. TTRC uses a sensory trail, where riders can ride over a bridge, through trees, up and down a hill and feel the wind in their faces. The group also has a fully-enclosed 100 feet by 200 feet arena, built specifically for TTRC. Due to the amount of support and growth experienced over the last few years, TTRC is currently in the process of planning and fundraising for a new, state-of-the-art facility. TTRC has completed construction on Phase I of a new facility.
Hippotherapy (Hippos- from the Greek word for horse) is a term which refers to the use of the movement of a horse as a treatment modality by trained physical, occupational, and speech therapist. The horse’s stride provides sensory input through movement that is variable, rhythmic, and repetitive. The horse is used as a part of an integrated treatment program to achieve functional outcomes. The movement of the horse as it is walking occurs in the same planes of motion that a human’s pelvis moves when he/she is walking. A rider seated astride a horse has normal movement translated into their pelvis as they ride. Riding horses relaxes tight muscles, improves strength, coordination and motor skills, and stimulates the respiratory and vestibular systems as well as neurological activity.
Clients who benefit from hippotherapy may have the following: abnormal tone, impaired balance, abnormal reflexes, impaired coordination, impaired communication, poor postural control, decreased mobility, or sensory-motor dysfunction. Some of the diagnoses seen in hippotherapy are, but not limited to cerebral palsy, down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, multiple sclerosis, cerebrovascular accident, fetal alcohol syndrome, sensory-motor dysfunction, and sensory-processing dysfunction.
Therapeutic riding uses equine-assisted activities for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well-being of people with disabilities. After an assessment by the therapeutic riding instructor, the clients are taught to ride based on their skills and learning styles. During the evaluation a therapeutic riding instructor will assess the client’s needs and check for any contraindications or precautions to riding based on Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International guidelines. Modifications of track, involvement of volunteers, and horse selections are based on the client’s special needs. At TTRC, the emphasis is on an enjoyable and relaxing experience which provides additional benefits in the areas of socialization, posture, mobility and an overall improved quality of life. Individuals with the following disabilities commonly participate and benefit from therapeutic riding, including muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, visual impairment, down syndrome, mental retardation, autism, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, emotional disabilities, brain injuries, amputations, learning disabilities, hearing impairment, and CVA.
Dr. Heidi Brady
Dr. Leslie Thompson