For years horses have been used as part of senior wellness programs, providing benefits including increasing physical strength and cognitive function as well as fostering socialization. Recently, residents from Brightmore of Wilmington ranging in age from 84 to 92 enjoyed a morning of horseback riding at Randall’s Reach with the Coastal Therapeutic Riding Program, as an activity recently added to Brightmore’s wellness program.
“Horseback riding is great exercise no matter what you’re age,” said Erin Rhyne, Fitness and Aquatics Director at the community. “Riding offers tremendous physical and emotional wellness benefits – improving strength, coordination, balance, joint mobility, flexibility, posture, circulation and muscle tone along with memory, sensation, self-esteem and confidence.”
According to the American Equestrian Alliance, “because horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength.”
Resident Dorothy “Dottie” Weathersbee remembers taking her daughter to riding lessons and always thought it looked like fun. According to Erin Rhyne, “Dottie was nervous at first since it’s her first time in over 50 years being around a horse but as she approached the horse named Beans, she said, ‘Oh look at you, you’re not too bad. You’re such a gentle creature! And those big brown eyes are watching my every move.’ The entire time Dottie was riding, she was smiling from ear to ear!”
Brightmore’s non-riding residents who attended got the chance to see the farm’s other animals including a Miniature Donkey, a registered American Miniature Palomino-Pinto horse, a Shetland Pony, a potbellied pig, hens, ducks and a Koi Pond.
The horses are led by a PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) Certified instructor. Coastal Therapeutic Riding Program provides equine assisted activities and therapies for individuals with special needs along with Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapy.
Brightmore of Wilmington is proud to offer this program as a part of our overall wellness program, to learn more about the enrichment opportunities our residents experience each day visit our website.