Therapeutic horse riding involves the use of horses and their environment for the purposes of therapeutic activities. Serving as an adjunctive treatment intervention, it forms a key part of a multidisciplinary treatment approach, working with differently-abled children at Equistria, a therapeutic riding school in Bainsvlei, Bloemfontein.

Students are able to practically apply what they have learned in terms of physical, psychological, and cognitive levels of functioning during early/middle childhood phases to the particular children with whom they work at Equistria. Moreover, the module in which Therapeutic Horse Riding is, PSHC 6804 Community and Social Psychology, equips students with the theoretical underpinnings and analytic skills relating to community psychology in order to plan, conduct, and evaluate a psychosocial intervention regarding specific contemporary psychosocial issues. Included in the academic programme is an engagement with issues regarding empowerment, health, illness, and disability.

Working within the framework of a Positive Psychology orientation (one of the focus areas within the UFS Psychology Department), students focus on identifying and facilitating what the child can do, while bearing in mind the particular constraints afforded by his/her particular functional limitations. In this way, students are responsive to, and socially responsible towards, individuals with disabilities, while receiving invaluable hands-on experience in their interaction with the children and their horses during therapeutic riding. The students’ roles entail working as leaders and side-walkers during the course of the therapeutic riding lesson.

The focus of therapeutic riding is to stimulate the development of the child by engaging with him/her in terms of a sensory-motor emphasis. The individual attention and psychomotor stimulation which children receive during therapeutic riding activities contributes to the prevention of secondary impairments and works towards promoting their psychosocial well-being. The children benefit from the psychomotor stimulation on horseback, as well as the developmentally-appropriate play activities that they engage in after they complete their riding sessions. Thus, therapeutic riding forms a key part of a multidisciplinary treatment approach while working with differently-abled children, complementing the physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions the children receive at school. Our aim at therapeutic horse riding is to help the riders to be as independent as possible while ensuring the maximum therapeutic benefit. It is especially important that all our riders finish each session on a good note – so we end each session with something they CAN do!

Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember.
Involve me, and I will understand.
(Confucius, 450 BC)

PSHC 6804

For more information, contact Pravani Naidoo.


T: +27 51 401 2240 or

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Katlego Mabulana: +27 51 401 2495
Juanita Hlongwane: +27 51 401 3269

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