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Therapeutic Riding Lessons: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are currently unable to offer therapeutic lessons. Please contact Clodagh Carey to discuss our other options: or 01 272 0704 extension 201

Therapeutic horse riding is a multi area intervention therapy which is used for children and adults with a variety of physical, cognitive, emotional and developmental disabilities. Therapeutic Riding has been recognised for decades to improve physical, emotional, social, cognitive, behavioural and educational skills as well as being a healthy and fun activity.

The warmth and three dimensional movement of the horse is transmitted through the rider’s body, gradually making it more relaxed and supple, reducing spasms and improving balance, mobility, posture and co-ordination, strengthening muscles throughout a rider’s body, increases circulation and promotes better overall health. Horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait so those with mobility problems discover a new freedom in movement. Motor functions are improved by this unique and enjoyable therapy.

Horseback riding increases concentration and improves learning skills. Riders are gently challenged and are rewarded with a sense of achievement and experience a general feeling of well-being, better self-esteem and self-confidence.

For those with mental or emotional disabilities, the unique relationship formed with their horse can lead to increased confidence, patience and self-esteem, as well as emotional well-being and relaxation. The sense of independence found on horseback benefits all our clients.

Structured riding sessions are done under the supervision of our specially trained and qualified Therapeutic Riding coaches, with the assistance of trained leaders and Horses.

Therapeutic Riding Lessons in Festina Lente are designed to encourage participation and the development of individual abilities, with specific goals designed for each Rider and our coaches can provide reports for their clients and their doctors.

Who can benefit from Therapeutic Riding?

Everyone can benefit from Therapeutic Riding but some of the many diagnoses that can especially benefit from Therapeutic Riding include but are not limited to:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder/ Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Amputation
  • Anxiety
  • Auditory Impairment
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Brain Injuries
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Cognitive Disabilities
  • Developmental Delay
  • Down Syndrome
  • Fine and Gross Motor Skill Delays
  • Language Disabilities
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neurological, Psychological, Physical, and/or Mental Disorders
  • Neuromuscular
  • Paralysis
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • Sensory Integration
  • Spina Bifida
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Terminal Illness
  • Trauma
  • Vestibular Disorders
  • Visual Impairment
  • Weight Control

How does Therapeutic Riding benefit a person?

Our Therapeutic Riding Programme is used to develop, increase and improve:
Physical abilities:
Muscle tone, balance, coordination, muscle strength, flexibility, fitness, posture, gait (ability to walk), respiration, circulation, metabolism, sensory perception and integration, independence: self-care and mobility.
Psychological abilities:
Concentration, problem solving and decision making, insight, motivation, self-esteem, confidence, learning/practising concepts e.g. letters, numbers, colours, distances, shapes etc.
Social abilities:
Communication and social skills, learning appropriate behaviour and manners, interaction with peers: individuals and groups, human/animal contact and bonding, building relationships, consideration for others and taking on responsibility.

Why use Horses?

Horses are unique in their response to humans because they are prey animals, not predators, and their survival demands they be extremely sensitive to the environment. Horses are able to “read” people in terms of their feelings and intentions. Horses ignore the outward form and respond, instead, to the person’s inner substance. All our Therapeutic Riding Horses are specially trained to do Therapeutic Riding Lessons and are very calm animals.

What is involved in each session?

There are many elements associated with Therapeutic Riding sessions. Once mounted, the session will include physical exercises to help improve co-ordination, posture and balance.

A variety of games and other learning aids are used as part of the sessions – all of which are used to stimulate the physical, cognitive, and emotional development of the child or adult. The exercises are done in a fun and varied way and include many learning aids.

In addition, the Therapeutic Riding Sessions can include our purpose built Sensory Trail which has been specifically designed to provide both sensory stimulation and sensory integration. This also includes a water feature, woodland area, purposefully created mounds, sounds with different surfaces and a variety of therapeutic games.

Sessions are provided both in the indoor and outdoor arena and also along the sensory trail. For insurance reasons, children under 4 years have lessons in the indoor arena.

How much does it cost?

Click here to view our price list.

Who facilitates the sessions?

The sessions are facilitated by a coach who has studied therapeutic riding. A leader and side-walker(s) may also be involved.

History of Therapeutic Riding Lessons in Festina Lente

Festina Lente is a registered charity which is committed to improving the lives of adults and children with special needs. Festina Lente Riding School has been providing therapeutic riding lessons for over 5 years – our youngest rider being only 18 months old. Each year hundreds of adults and children with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities benefit from our Therapeutic Riding Lessons.

Preparing for a Lesson

Please arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the scheduled class time. This will give rider time to find helmet, change shoes, get a drink or use the toilet, etc. and be ready to ride.

Helmets & Clothes

All riders are required to wear appropriately fitting approved horse riding helmets. Festina Lente provides a wide range of helmets that riders may borrow. However, if we do not have a helmet that fits, or if you wish to have your own helmet, please consult with our office prior to purchase.

For safety as well as comfort, riders should dress in close-fitting clothing. Loose/floppy clothing can get caught and tangled with equipment. Keep in mind that we try where possible to do our lessons outside and while there is cover in our indoor arena there is no heat or air conditioning. Dress in layers that can be shed, especially during cooler months. Bring a jacket. During the summer, be sure to dress coolly. For the rider, sturdy shoes or boots are preferable. Very often parents or minders may walk along beside the horse and rider so sturdy closed toe shoes or boots are also required as well as following the clothes advice above.


It is important that if you can’t attend your lesson, please phone our riding school office Monday to Friday 9am-5pm (01)2720704 ext 201 or our yard 01- 2720184.

How do I find out more or book a lesson?

To find out more about Therapeutic Riding or book a lesson please contact Clodagh at 01-2720704, Email at

We currently have some spaces available in our Therapeutic Riding Lesson timetable, please contact us to find out more details of available spaces: Tel: (01)2720704 ext 201, Email: to find out the most up date space availability.

Please note all therapeutic riders must have a referral letter from their doctor prior to commencing therapeutic lessons with Festina Lente. Persons with Down Syndrome must also be tested for Atlantoaxial Instability.

Festina Lente Riding School FAQ & our Terms & Conditions:

Click here to read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Click here to read our Terms & Conditions.

We also offer Therapeutic Riding Training Courses for coaches, click here to read more..

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