Down Syndrome and Therapeutic Riding

Down Syndrome and Therapeutic Riding

Reprinted from NARHA Strides magazine, October 1996 (Vol. 2, No. 4)

Down Syndrome is the most common and readily identifiable chromosomal condition associated with mental retardation. It is caused by a chromosomal abnormality: for some unexplained reason, an accident in cell development results in 47 instead of the usual 46 chromosomes. The extra genes cause certain characteristics known as Down Syndrome. Individuals with Down Syndrome also have all the other genes given to them by their parents. As a result, they have a combination of features typical of Down Syndrome on top of the individual features from their parents. This includes some degree of mental retardation, or cognitive disability and other developmental delays.  The extra chromosome changes the orderly development of the body and brain.  In most cases, the diagnosis of Down Syndrome is made according to results from a chromosome test administered shortly after birth.

Medical Considerations for Therapeutic Riding
By Liz Baker, PT, Medical Committee Chairman
Serving people with Down Syndrome in the therapeutic horseback riding setting can be a source of great joy and satisfaction to riders, instructors, therapists and volunteers. These riders are often among the most talented and competitive a program may ever serve. It is helpful to be familiar with a few characteristics of Down Syndrome which will influence the operating center’s decisions as to how to best serve this population.