In 1980 Pam Hayes-Houldin, in conjunction with PRIDE (then Easter Seals) and the local community, started Huntingdon’s first equine assisted therapeutic program to help clients with many types of disabilities. Over the past 30 years hundreds of riders have participated in and have been helped at Horsepower Farm through the widely acknowledged benefits of equine activities.
WHAT IS EQUINE ASSISTED THERAPEUTICS OR THERAPEUTIC RIDING?
The horse is used to help meet the physical, mental, social and emotional needs of riders with disabilities through the teaching of horsemanship skills. This may include, according to a riders’ ability: handling, grooming, tacking, riding, and developmental vaulting. Activities exercise both “mind and muscle” and can help improve
- muscle strength
- language development
- social interaction
- behavior control
- self confidence and esteem
Therapeutic riding has many positive benefits including interaction and connection with horses, volunteers, other riders and the instructor. These experiences hopefully will enrich and have an impact on all aspects of the riders’ life.
IS EQUINE ASSISTED THERAPEUTICS SAFE?
All of the horses at Horsepower Farm are especially trained to work with riders with special needs. The horses used in the program must meet very strict behavior and movement criteria, having both sound mind and body. Additionally, as needed, each rider will have trained volunteers as a leader and side-walker. But as a student progresses, we encourage independence and hope to empower them with the ability to ride alone safely. In order to participate in the Horsepower Program and to help personalize goals, all riders must be referred by and have forms completed by parents, school teacher, Physician, Physical, Occupational, or Speech Therapist, and/or Social Worker.
WHAT ARE THE CREDENTIALS OF THE INSTRUCTOR?
Pam Hayes-Houldin was raised on a horse and dairy farm and has been working with horses her entire life. As an instructor, she became very interested in therapeutic riding and decided to pursue that field.
Pam trained at The Cheff Center for Riding for the Handicapped in Augusta, Michigan and then became qualified as a Master Instructor through the Pennsylvania Council on Therapeutic Horsemanship (www.pacth.org) and the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (firstname.lastname@example.org). Pam has been involved with the Pennsylvania Council for many years, is currently the President of the Board of Directors and is on the faculty for the Instructor Training Courses. She also received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA for her work in therapeutic riding. When she is not teaching, she continues her own education and broadens her knowledge by attending varied seminars and clinics around the country.
HUNTINGDON COUNTY PRIDE
Huntingdon County PRIDE (www.huntingdonpride.org), which has many programs for those with special needs, continues as the support organization for the Horsepower Program and is instrumental in the success of our therapeutic riding activities. For those interested in taking part in Horsepower’s equine assisted therapeutics program, you may contact Pam Hayes-Houldin directly, or the Huntingdon PRIDE office.
9794 Old Hawn Rd.
Huntingdon, PA 16652
814 667 2497
1301 Mt Vernon Avenue
Huntingdon, Pa 16652