5 Reasons why Horseback Riding is the Best Therapy

Whether you’re a beginner or an old pro, you know that horseback riding is one of the most fun activities and best forms of exercise around. But have you ever thought of its potential as a form of therapy? Believe it or not, horseback riding has a tremendous amount of potential to help people, and has been successfully used as a part of therapy in everything from autism and cerebral palsy to post-traumatic stress disorder and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Sound too good to be true? Don’t just take our word for it! Check out a few of our favorite reasons why we love horseback riding therapy.

It Helps you Manage Your Emotions

If you’ve ever ridden a horse before, this probably sounds a little less unbelievable. Because horseback riding is a joint effort, a partnership between you and your horse, it has a way of removing your focus from yourself and your own problems to what’s happening in the moment. After all, you kind of have to. Because the moment you remove your attention from your horse and what you’re telling him to do, he’s going to start doing his own thing. That’s why focusing on a fun and intellectually stimulating activity can often be very therapeutic.

Horses can Teach Social Skills

You know how sometimes you’d rather be with your horse than with people? Well, that’s not always a bad thing, especially since some forms of disability can make people feel isolated. Often, people with disabilities are bullied and ignored and this can lead to difficulties in connecting with others. Forming a bond with a horse, however, can be a lot easier and help build a person’s trust. Learning to interact meaningfully with their horse can, in turn, teach social skills that may make it easier to navigate relationships with people. Becoming part of the equestrian community also gives you access to a new group of friends with whom you have something in common!

Horses can Teach Patience

Yet another lesson you’ve absolutely learned if you’re a practiced rider! Horseback riding is an acquired skill and one that is only developed through a lot of time, practice, and patience. Because not only do you learn to be patient with yourself as you try to master a new skill, you also learn to be patient with your horse, who—as we all know—has a mind of their own! Building this patience over time can be therapeutic because it encourages the development of healthy coping mechanisms, like managing anger, stress, or frustration with yourself or with others. And no matter what we struggle with, we can all use a little more patience!

Horseback Riding Improves Balance

This can be especially vital for those with cerebral palsy or any other form of paralysis. And because horseback riding is accessible even to people who struggle with walking or spend most of their lives in a wheelchair, this can be an extremely important tool for creating a sense of autonomy and control over one’s body that some might lack in their everyday lives. It also strengthens your core, your hand muscles, and your legs in a way that more traditional forms of physical therapy might be unable to accomplish. So, when your body is constantly adjusting in response to the movements of your horse’s body, you’re actually stimulating muscle development that can be highly therapeutic.

Horseback Riding Gives You Confidence

How did you feel when you finally learned to mount your horse without a struggle? To jump them with ease? To fluently speak horse-people lingo? You were proud, right? You felt great about yourself! Because you didn’t just accomplish one simple task—you’d unlocked a whole new world for yourself through the acquisition of a skill that you could develop and enjoy for years to come. (Plus, you’d found a new friend in your horse!)

Horseback riding is unique in that respect because, unlike many other activities, it’s not accessible to everyone. Becoming a skilled rider isn’t about following a simple step-by-step guide and it’s not something you can achieve without earning. So, when you master a new element of horseback riding, you’ve acquired tangible proof that you can set a goal, meet it, and be good at it. And no matter what we struggle with in life, the power of that “I can do this!” feeling is both universal and priceless.

So, whether you’re a newbie looking to learn a new skill or an experienced rider who could encourage a friend, it’s important to remember that horseback riding has value beyond simply being fun. Through the acquisition of new skills, the improvement of balance and motor control, and the development of confidence and social skills, horseback riding can be a valuable form of therapy with a unique power to change lives.

Horseback Riding for Beginners

When did it start for you? For me, my love affair with horses began when I was about eight years old, and it evolved from playing with My Little Pony dolls to devouring every “a girl and her horse”-themed book I could get my hands on (anyone remember The Pony Pals?) to finally getting a pony of my very own. And no matter how your love for horses began, two things are true for everyone: first, that your connection with horses is uniquely special to you, and secondly, now that you have a horse, you probably intend to ride it at some point. After all, that’s kind of the whole point, right?

But whether you’re reading this at eight years old or eighty, you’ll soon discover— just like I did—that there’s a world of difference between reading about riding a horse and actually being on the back of one of these magnificent creatures. So, what can you do to make the transition process a little easier? You can start by taking a look at our top tips!

Acknowledge the Awkwardness

You know how, in all the horse books, there’s this magical connection between rider and horse that leaves them both feeling uniquely centered and connected? It sounds awesome, doesn’t it? But the thing is, building that connection can take time. Whether you’re taking lessons at a stable or you’ve just bought a horse of your very own, your first new job is to get to know that horse. And just like getting to know a person, bonding with your horse takes time. So, if you don’t feel that magical connection right away—don’t worry! Forming a new relationship is always awkward at first.

It’s also important to acknowledge the physical awkwardness you may experience. If it’s your first time, mounting a horse from a mounting block is definitely not going to look graceful. And if you’re not used to riding, being on top of a huge animal might feel intimidating, not to mention how sore it can make your thighs and butt! But with time, training, and a lot of practice, all that awkwardness will dissipate.

Take it Slow

This might sound similar to the first point, but I promise it’s a separate thing! Because even once you allow yourself to accept and acknowledge any awkwardness you might feel, it’s still important to take your time. Begin by taking horseback riding lessons from an experienced rider or trainer and adjust your expectations to fit your starting point. Just like you won’t experience that storybook connection with your horse instantly, you also won’t absorb a lifetime of riding lessons overnight. So, even if you want to be galloping majestically through an open field, realistically, you’ll need to start off in a riding ring or an arena.

Taking it slow also applies to the pace you’ll be setting for your first few rides. Start with a nice, steady pace like walking or a gentle trot and keep that up until you have quite a few lessons under your belt. Believe it or not, beginning with a steady pace actually has a number of benefits for both you and your horse. Because it doesn’t just serve to show you the ropes of riding or help your horse get comfortable with you, it also minimizes the physical wear and tear to your body!

As is the case with any form of exercise, it’s important to warm up instead of rushing in full steam ahead, and since horseback riding was recently classified as a moderate-intensity form of exercise by the British Horse Society following a 2011 study, prioritizing your warm-up is extra important. There’s more to riding a horse than just sitting—which is awesome, because it can help you build strong leg muscles and tone your core! —but not so awesome if you ride too hard too soon and stretch your muscles a little farther than they can stretch. So, keep your health and safety in mind and remember that taking it slow might not be the most fun way to begin, but it’s definitely the best, and it will give you a foundation of knowledge and experience you can use for years to come.

Take Care of Your Horse

There’s more to horseback riding than just the part where you’re actually riding the horse! At the beginning and end of every ride, it’s vital that you groom and tack up your horse. (If you’re wondering, “tacking up” means putting the saddle and bridle on your horse). Although grooming and tacking might not be as much fun as riding your horse, they serve a couple of important purposes. On one hand, they benefit your horse’s health by providing necessary warming up and cooling down periods. And on the other hand, as a fun bonus, they provide a special opportunity for you to bond with your horse.

Horses actually love being groomed and that type of loving touch gives them a sense of comfort and security. The more you groom them, the more they’ll associate those feelings with you! Win-win, right? You can use a variety of different tools in the grooming process to let your horse know you care, and while your qualified riding instructor can give you specific information on the best tools and ways to develop a grooming routine, you should always have these standard three at the ready.

A hoof pick

The hoof pick is useful for exactly what you might think: picking harmful things out of your horse’s hooves. Be sure to keep an eye out for dirt and small pebbles especially.

Body brush

To clean your horse’s body and remove anything that might be irritating their coat

Curry comb

For a deeper clean, this comb removes irritants closer to your horse’s skin

As you can see, a lot more goes into horseback riding than you might think, but once you start riding, you’ll see that it’s also more rewarding than you ever imagined. So, now that you know a few basics, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get riding!

Every horse is different

Every animal has a unique personality and disposition. Because of this, every animal needs to be taken care of differently. Whether you have a young horse or an older horse, we pride ourselves at being able to take care of all the needs you and your horse may need. If you love your horse, you can count on Cole Creek Equestrian Center to care for them with love and compassion


We pride ourselves with a spacious 80 foot by 180 foot covered arena so our boarders can ride year round in any weather. And for those late night riders, our arena is well-lit for those cool evening jaunts. And to keep your riding experience pleasant the arena is regularly sprayed down and raked to keep it level and dust free.


When it comes to your horses, we want you to be proud of the home you are giving them, as much as we are. We offer beautiful 12 foot by 12 foot stalls, with a large 20 foot run. Each stall comes with automatic waterers, rubber mats, and the runs have special honeycomb footing to keep their hooves dry in the winter. We feed the horses twice a day and the stalls are cleaned twice a day to ensure your horses happiness.

Also included

Lockable personal tack lockers
Obstacle courses
Lots of trails
Round pen for lunging
80 acres to ride and play on
Hot and cold water bathing stalls
Horse walker
Trailer storage.

Feel free to contact us anytime for a tour of the facility, and to see for yourself, the hospitality that we have to offer you and your horse.