The Healing Power of The Horse

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 3:15pm
by Meg Drake

On a beautiful sunny day in McKinney, Texas, the RIDE TV marketing team set out to meet and tour the ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship facility.

Upon arriving, we were greeted by the one and only barn cat, Cajun. We had the pleasure of meeting ManeGait Marketing and Development Manager, Heather Guarnera and Tricia Lee. Together, they gave us a tour of the facility. ManeGait improves the lives of disabled children and adults through the power of the horse. Sitting on a 14-acre ranch in North Texas, ManeGait is home to over 350 volunteers on a regular basis. Over the course of a year, volunteer numbers reach up to 1,000!

ManeGait is a PATH Premier accredited facility that continues its success through the many donations made to the facility each year. With 135 riders and 20 horses, you can guarantee that the horses at ManeGait get tons of attention. Horses range in size from large, 16.1-hand horses to small driving ponies.

So, what is therapeutic riding, anyway? And what are the benefits? Therapeutic riding is a form of therapy in which a pony, horse, or donkey is partnered with a disabled human. The mental and emotional impact these trained horses have on their human counterparts is undeniable. Therapeutic riding improves coordination, balance, body awareness and motor control. It helps riders to gain confidence and acceptance beyond the boundaries they once faced.

ManeGait gives their riders an experience that differs from many other therapeutic equine centers, and here is why: They are the first facility to implement a process that exercises the brain before riders actually mount horses or participate in equine therapy. These brain exercises are designed to get the rider energized and focused before ever mounting their four-legged partners, which ultimately makes for a better riding experience for both horse and rider. In addition, the bond that the volunteers share with the horses and the riders is beyond what most people have the privilege of experiencing in a lifetime. The ManeGait instructors, volunteers and entire staff have gone and will continue to go out of their way to make sure that their riders are able to enjoy their riding experience. There is no question as to why their riders are so successful both inside and outside of the arena.

“In ManeGait’s therapeutic riding program we celebrate victories on a daily basis in our lessons. A victory or achievement in a lesson means freedom and a sense of accomplishment for our riders,” said Lee. “It is truly a blessing to watch the impact riding makes in the daily lives of both the riders and their families. Sometimes small strides lead to big results and we are privileged to see these blessings happen every day here at ManeGait.”

Here at RIDE TV, we believe in the power of the horse, and we know that our friends at ManeGait do, too. But, despite the immense benefits associated with therapeutic horseback riding, this service isn’t covered by insurance. There are many forms of therapies covered by insurance providers, yet despite the proven results of hippotherapy, the practice remains largely unrecognized.

We spoke with Tricia Lee about this subject while on our visit, and her response was simple. From the time Tricia’s daughter was born with a disability, they tried many different therapies, yet nothing was as effective as the therapy she received at ManeGait. Lee said that even without the insurance, her family would pay any amount of money required to keep her daughter in the worthwhile therapy she receives at ManeGait.

ManeGait charges riders less than 15% of what it costs the facility to provide lessons. The facility relies largely on income from donations, grants and fundraising events to help keep their rider’s out of pocket costs as low as possible, while still maintaining their operations.

Comment below and tell us your thoughts on therapeutic riding. We would love to hear from you.

Until next time RIDE Nation,

Ella Ahmed

Marketing Intern