Horseback Riding Therapy for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Dayton at Therappeutic Riding, Inc.

Dayton at Therappeutic Riding, Inc.

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – Therapeutic Riding Incorporated of Ann Arbor, Michigan recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. TCI, as its riders affectionately call it, is a non profit organization founded in 1984. TCI leads the way in the field of therapeutic horseback riding for people with special needs.

TRI relies solely on individual and corporate donations as well as fundraisers, grants and rider fees. They receive no government funding. Their mission as stated by Jan Vescelius- Executive Director, Program Director and Head Instructor is:

“to provide recreational and therapeutic riding which develops physical, cognitive and emotional capabilities and enhances self esteem”

These are all vital components for those with special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy.

No one is ever turned away if they cannot afford the riders fees. Volunteers and other charitable persons often pay the fees. If a family still cannot afford the fees they are asked to contact TRI and request funding through the Sam and Juliana Zirinsky Memorial Scholarship fund.

Dayton Thomas Goering of Ann Arbor Michigan has been riding at TCI for over a year now and looks forward to his special time each week at TCI.  Children diagnosed on the autism spectrum, as Dayton was at age 3, generally have a difficult time with sensory overload and social communication. He rides every Saturday and it has become an important part of his life and therapy. His confidence and self esteem have risen immensely through this program.  Building confidence and self esteem are two of the goals of therapy designed for people on the Autism Spectrum which can be seen on the smiling faces of the riders at TCI.

Image taken from Facebook

Image taken from Facebook

Children are encouraged to tour the stable and see the horses before one is picked. Generally either a horse or a child will make a move toward the one that seems to bond immediately with them. They are then paired with that horse, as the bond is already made. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are sensitive to touch, smell and motion.  Working and riding horses provides children the ability to use that special bond and discover sensations they would never have experienced.

Once that bond is made, the horse and rider move as one and trust each other. Dayton’s parents are pleased with horseback riding therapy and they continue to support the various autism therapy programs which have allowed their son to ride confidently with one hand.

All instructors are thoroughly trained in horsemanship and have been certified as therapeutic riding instructors by PATH International (formerly NARHA).

You can find additional information about PATH  at www.pathintl.org/resources-education/certifications.

More information about Therapeutic Riding Incorporated can be found on their website.