I just finished watching a program on TLC about a little girl that is schizophrenic. Toward the end of the program, they showed her at a Therapeutic riding center on a large pony/small horse...with no helmet. Then they proceeded to show her standing up on the pony's back (like a bad Craigslist ad)...then they put her 4 year old autistic brother up with her...with no helmet.
My question is: Is this common practice?
I mean, I'm from the ASB world where helmets aren't what I'd say the "norm", and I was shocked.
Is there some legit reason they wouldn't have a helmet on the kids? Just wondering.
Just like your run-of-the-mill hoarder will call herself a "Rescue", anyone with horses and a need to feel noble can claim they're running a TR program. There is no licensing, only a voluntary accreditation process with the governing body PATH. PATH claims it wants to raise the standards in the TR field, but will happily award "Membership" to, and list in their directory, any outfit that pays dues. I have volunteered and taught at one of the premier TR programs where they adhere to the highest safety standards, and I have also visited many TR centers where some really scary stuff was going on. Not only was I sure I was about to see a bad wreck at any moment, but the quality of the lessons was bad.
I'm the volunteer coordinator at a PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) Premier Accredited TRC, which means we have regulations from our national standard out the wazoo with regard to safety, horse care and instructor certification/quality of instruction.
Truly, anyone can call themselves a TRC, but if they aren't a PATH accredited program they don't have to follow the same rules we do.
But even beyond the poor judgment of the riding center, I can't believe the parents are okay with no helmets! The only sort of reasoning I could come up with why on earth their program doesn't require it is because perhaps they focus more on vaulting (whereas our basis for our lessons is more dressage and centered riding)? I know vaulters say it's almost more dangerous with a helmet (don't know that I believe that one...)
very rarely there will be a physical condition that precludes wearing a hard shell helmet, but then you usually see the client wearing a soft headgear sort of like those that boxers wear in training--and usually accompanied by at least one if not more sidewalkers.
but yes, where i volunteered, no helmet = no riding.
I volunteer at a therapeutic riding center in CA. The students here can't even be in the horse's stall without a helmet on, let alone be on horseback without one.
Exactly. The program I volunteered at was the same way, and to the best of my knowledge all reputable therapeutic programs are run the same way. Let's face it, liability is a huge issue when doing any kind of work with horses. Add in children that have mental or physical issues and the liability is astronomical. Any properly run program is going to want to minimize risk as much as possible.
Unfortunately, with the rise in popularity of therapeutic programs, you have some people who want to cash in on it. There's a decent amount of money to be made from it (if you're not fully insured and you're already running a bit of a backyard barn). Reputable programs have waitlists that can be a year or more, so there's definitely a demand there. So you get people who either want to try to make money off it, or you get people who genuinely want to help children with mental and physical issues, but have absolutely no idea how to run a decent program. Both are incredibly dangerous.
Last edited by Sku; Jun. 21, 2012 at 05:34 PM.
I used to volunteer at a TRC and the kids has their helmets on before they walked in the barn. Some of them had the soft headgear that charismaryllis described, the school provided both types of headgear but many of the parents opted to buy their child the helmet of their preference after a short time in the program. But no, they didn't even set foot inside the barn beyond stepping into the tack room to put on some sort of head protection if they didn't bring their own.
I think it's appalling that a TRC would allow the children to ride without helmets. Aside from the irresponsibility of it all, what about their insurance? I know the policy of the TRC I volunteered with required all riders to have head protection.