Therapeutic effect of horses on each of us

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Validation and Recognition of Lifelong Learning at our organization and  Evaluation of Learning Experience and Developments of Hoseriding and Activities around Horses

From the outside, horseback riding may look like just sitting and that all a rider has to do is give the horse some simple instructions like go, wheer, and turn. Some volunteers thought like that, too. In carrying the rider the horse is doing all the work, right? Wrong. There is far more to horseback riding than the casual observer might expect. And, there are benefits beyond simple enjoyment; physical, mental and emotional and social benefits.

Physical development

1.Riding develops balance and coordination. The movements required to cue a horse require body awareness and harmonic detection of body parts.. Riding also uses many muscles; most importantly the leg, abdominal, shoulder and back muscles, neck, hand, so nearly all body. Intensitivity of training muscles are high. Riding develops controlling the body, its movements and it develops motion detection. Riding does not depend on strength alone, but strong flexible muscles aid in stability and coordination. So, it develops stamina and condition.

2. Riding develops rhythm sensor, so it contributes to dance skills.

3.Riding a horse at a walk stimulates the internal organs which contributes to health. The aids in liver function and digestion makes riding a great therapy option, too.

4.Riding develops the body scheme. Riders burn also calories.

5. During activities around horses (grooming, cleaning stables, carrying saddles, equipment or bales of hay or mucking out), rider is also doing weight bearing exercise that helps maintain bone mass. All this exercising contributes to riders` health state.

Mental development

1.            Riding develops concentration and mentality. At first, rider may feel that just learning to stay on and steer the horse is a challenge. When that becomes easy, many more learning opportunities present themselves. As progressing with riding, rider will always have questions and problems which develop logic and solving capability. Even the most experienced equestrian would admit there is always something new to learn.

2.            Riding provides various kinds of experiences and through situations, riders develop knowledge, which can be mirrored in everyday life, too, It teaches logic, maths, art, biology, phisics, and it develops language skills, too. Who did think of it? During communication to your instructor or other riders, you learn different words, words which get more and more different meanings, you develop vocabulary and way of expressing yourself. Riders learn to use acquired knowledge logically, systematically.

3.            Reading books about riding develops reading and understanding skills. When you read about riding, the meanings differ when reading the same paragraphs periodically and reader gets to different points of understanding and different level of acquiring endless knowledge. It develops focus of attention on details but also on watching the whole.

4.            Riding contributes to musical skills. It develops rhytm sensor and it develops muscal harmonic detection, as rider composes the circumstances as one composes musical harmony. In this sense, artistic knowledge develops, too.

5.            Moreover, riding develops harmonic detection of working in the nature, under changable curcumstances, it contributes to the sense of space and to the abilities to count with weather conditions.

6.            At our places, riding contributes to learning foreign languages and it develops capability to wish to understand. During action, you want to understand the other, riders also feel what the instructor is saying and they learn foreign words, and expressions through experience is easier.

7.            Riding provides an active avenue for keeping your brain exercised. Riding contributes to riders` brain being young and supple. Lifelong learning may prevent memory loss. Riding is a non-ending challange which is always motivating.

Emotional/Spiritual development

1.            For many, a horse is a connection with nature. Many people find companionship while working with horse. It contributes to emotional and spiritual development and gives harmony, feeling of accomplishment, solace, companionship, trust, self confidence, belief, courage, self awarness, awarness of capability. It also helps through psychological difficulties and disappointment and depressed periods of life and to get over personal pain. It contributes to useful relaxation and meditation and personal development to the advantage of the society.

Riding has a therapic effect on psyche in general.

1.            Fun with rider companion or horse increases positive spirit which has a positive effect on self,  others and environment and life in general.

2.            Although, riding can present its frustrations (when something does not go at the first time or other difficulties) and challenges, it teaches riders to have stamina to continue, to accept difficulties, the fact that learning process can be long, and that we learn through difficulties. It also teaches riders one with difficulties acquire more learning experience than one with no difficulties.

Riding teaches us to struggle and keep out on the way to our aims.

1.            Many people claim that they finally realize their dreams when riding. Riding develops emotional knowledge and conative function.

2.            Riding can provide many opportunities for success. Whether rider learn to post the trot or receive high marks in a dressage test, he/she will feel good about doing. Riding develops motivation and evaluation skill of acquired knowledge.

3.            Riding develops self confidence, independence and self expression.

4.            Riding contributes to musical skills and artistic skills in harmony with devepoling emotional and spiritual sense.

5.            Riding increases knowledge to measure our capability in situations, and situational awareness. It helps in faster decision making, logical self check and choosing capabilty of the varity of solutions.

6.            If rider craves solitude, riding can provide that as well. Many riders feel horse is somewhat of a kindred spirit in tune with their own feelings and emotions; more so than any human companion. In times of stress a horse can be a quiet friend, who is without judgment or guile. This situation increases the chance of finding peace in stress or relaxing sitution.

Social development

1.            Riding develops communicative and interactional skills.

2.            Through social tasks, sharing opinion, exercises around horses and analizations of relationships to horses, riders acquire social behavioural skills, important movements and pozitive social attitudes and pozitive social reactions in ife in general.

3.            It’s fun to get together with friends for a lesson, team endeavor such as mounted games or drill riding, or a trail ride develops team work skills, tolarance, helpfulness, acquiring own skills and recognition of skills of the other, self actualization in the society and helpfulness towards others to get to self actualization, actualization of resignation for the benefit of the others, motivation for being successful not just individually in the society but together with others. Pleasure increases self satisfaction which also serves pozitive attitudes to the others.

4.            Riding develops skills of paying attention not just to self but others. It develops skills of caring for others e.g. including children. It also develops imaginative skills and role play skills (to try to think with the head of others) and solution finding skills.

5.            Through contact to the instructor, other riders and horse no matter in success or difficulties, they acquire social knowledge and build out a strong relationship based on trust, respect and humbleness.

6.            Riding develops harmonic detection of working with another living being (e.g. group work) when one is dependend on the other or on the horse. It develops riders` attention to the other, skills to exclude more the self in some situations, cooperative sense and good will in general, in the hope of attaining better result together.

Horseriding at our organization as Recognition and Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning:

There are many opinions, definitions of learning processes. Here, we would like to specify our own teaching process.

We have no formal educational institution. Our organization developed a program which includes non-formal education for youngsters through sport of horseriding and nonprofessional activities with some kind of professional development. We also keep it important that the learner’s inner (non explicit) objectives are to increase skills and knowledge and to increase experience of the emotional rewards associated with increased love for our subjects and to increase passion for learning. Formal learning is intentional from the learner’s perspective.

We also represent informal learning elements, while learning experience is within the workplace and we claim it is more effective to learn through action, love, joy creativity and some freedom than as considering an official curriculum. The acquisition of knowledge or learning occurs in everyday life. Some people fully understand it and value it, just few does not.

 We validate the forms of learning including non-formal and informal learning and clarify the learning processes, areas of development of skills in our nonformal educational programs horseriding and activities around it. We clarify our policies or tools to validate lifelong learning which focus strongly on the need to identify, assess and certificate non-formal and informal learning, particularly in the workplace and connected to leisure, sport and contacts.

Education at us is slightly structured, which means it is not visible for leaners but it is planned and aimed by teachers. Learning time includes activities, seemingly leisure time, but planned educational program stays in the background. Learning support is nonformal and instinct, non explicit, but through learning we often refer to professional elements.

Learning does not lead to certification, but learners may bear the track of acquired knowledge all of their life. The challenge is to recognise and identify the informal or nonformal learning, and understand the implications. For this reason, we wrote down the clear definitions what reader and learner can more understand about characteristic of our education. We claim that physical, mental, emotional and spiritual and social developments are all learning. Most effective learning is through action, nonformal educational programs outside of learning institution, in seemingly free time, but under occupation and passionate, motivating curcumstances.

A designated, beloved teacher or trainer is also necessary with professional knowledge and experience. Award of a qualification or credit of learning process is not necessary, although, some informal certification of learning processes or an external specification of outcomes is very motivating. Informal sitting (on-time-agreed in advanced) is also part of our educational programs. We have a time scheduled framework and organised events but the learning process is mainly non explicit without qualification. Teacher guides learners without reference to structured learning outcomes. Reference happens occasionally, but mainly when a relatively big step comes to the learning process. This informal education learning is gaining knowledge without an imposed framework, such as learning new job skills.

Learning takes place within the social organisation between teacher, rider and horse or teacher group and horse.

 Teaching methods which are useful at our organization: We use teaching methods individually, defined for characters according to the experiences, interests and goals. It is difficult, but possible to recognize motivation by open talks. We ask youths what they wish to learn, but they often do not know enough about our subjects to form an opinion. They are involved in selecting goals later, too, we encourge them to increase self awareness and educator intends to be also a companion through learning, a partner who helps learner without subordinate roles. Learners periodically get more freedom to develop and realize aims in activities. Personal development is something which is extremely emphasized by us. Best learn is in an atmosphere of warmth and acceptance, so we like to work with pozitive encouragement. Learners are asked about their goals and desires which are always considered.

We have different ways to teach. We teach by showing, as visual learning helps to learn movements correctly. We teach by continuous communication, explanation and explicit communication of exercises when riding. During riding the information is spoken what to do, all the learning experience and skills are implicit. Tasks are repeated. Touching is also essential concept during learning to internalize the concept. Sharing experiences and social interaction is emphasized during learning process. It reinforces the learning process.

We use the following learning techniques

Lectures, our educator delivers a large amount of information in a short amount of time. During information there is activity and some short waiting time to realize the information in action. The reaction is always waited for and pozitively approved. Information is repeated on a routine basis for each new group of learners but it is also varified as leaning level is also different. We pay attention that learners do not become bored and distracted and we variate the tasks types.

Demonstration, our skilled educator tells and shows what steps to take in the educational process. By seeing a task performed, learners are more aware of what they are supposed to do, they easier memorize steps in the process. Learners are remembered of the pozitive outcomes.

Discussion, exchanges of ideas and feelings are provided.  Two way communication or group discussions. Our educator speaks directly to learners, asks questions or makes comments and waits for a response. After lectures, groups are motivated to discuss their views with each other. They continue open conversation which was started during lectures and this enables learners to express themselves and to provide new areas for learning.

Role playing, educator  place learners into roles (often horses` roles) where they act out ideas and reactions. The method is rewarding while we also reflect to actions in the society. This helps more efficient learning. Each one or each group differs in how the message is delivered and interpreted.

Hands on (experiential), learners try something until they do not experience it. This technique often can be described as second meaning in our case. Experiential learning is real experience but not always by touching as a material. But experience in action.

Processing, educator uses the technique nearly after each leaning process. Review is taken after the group has learned. Learners often present acquired knowledge to other members.

Praise is our most powerful reward during leaning process. We celebrate each small step forward and it is a strong motivating force. We often varify teaching methods during learning.