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EAAT Programs Available at Riding Therapy Center of Victoria in Texas

Riding Therapy Center of VictoriaEquine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) are treatments that incorporate equines in an equine environment with rehabilitative goals that are related to the rider's needs and abilities. EAAT promotes emotional, physical, social and cognitive growth in people with a variety of diagnoses. It can particularly be applied to people with autism spectrum disorder, delayed development, Down Syndrome, ADHD, anxiety, stroke, depression, traumatic brain injuries, PTSD and other needs or disabilities.

EAAT has been around in the United States since the 1960s. It has become a wonderful, motivational and beneficial activity for people with disabilities. Since then, foundations and organizations have been established to ensure proper training and safety guidelines are being followed as well as instructors are certified and centers are accredited. The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International) is a federally registered nonprofit organization that was formed in 1969 to promote EAAT for individuals with disabilities or special needs.

People with cognitive, psychomotor and behavioral disabilities have shown positive results after receiving EAAT. Riders not only experience cognitive growth but also get physically stronger. Horseback riding helps to decrease spasticity, enhance balance and coordination, improve respiration and circulation, increase range of motion in joints, reduce abnormal movement patterns, provide sensory integration, strengthen muscles and stretch tight or spastic muscles.

PATH International certified instructors and therapists provide a safe and comfortable environment for riders to learn and bond with the therapy horses. In the process, riders can build trust and self-worth and develop communication. They can advance socialization skills, decrease isolation, improve impulse control and assist with emotional management. This form of therapy will help set perspectives and teach limits and boundaries. EAAT programs include lessons in horse care, grooming, saddling and horsemanship skills. It is tailored to each individual's needs.

What is so unique is that horses have the ability to respond and give feedback to riders' actions and behavior just like humans. It is very easy for a rider to establish a connection with a horse. Establishing a bond or trust with a horse is often much easier than establishing a relationship with a person. Horses are much more forgiving, and they don't judge. There is nothing more amazing and special than the bond between a horse and rider.

Locally, we are so lucky to have an outstanding organization dedicated to just this. The Riding Therapy Center of Victoria has provided equine assisted activities and therapies to children and adults with various special needs and disabilities for over 25 years. The facility is the only PATH International premier accredited center within 125 miles, and the staff, volunteers and horses at The Riding Therapy Center have touched numerous lives and shared the benefits of various equine assisted activities and therapies with the local community and surrounding counties.

To learn more about The Riding Therapy Center, please visittheridingtherapycenter.org.

Dr. Shana Bohac is a veterinarian at Lone Star Animal Hospital in Victoria. She works on both small animals and equine patients. Submit questions todrshanabohac@hotmail.com.

- by Shana Bohac/www.victoriaadvocate.com