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Therapeutic Horse Back Riding of a Spinal Cord Injured Veteran: A Case Study


  • Glennys Asselin MSN/ED RN CRRN ,

  • Julius H. Penning MSN/ED RN CRRN ,

  • Savithri Ramanujam MSN RN CRRN ,

  • Rebecca Neri BSN RN CRRN ,

  • Constance Ward MSN RN BC CNRN



To determine an incomplete spinal cord injured veteran's experience following participation in a therapeutic horseback riding program.


Following the establishment of a nationwide therapeutic riding program for America's wounded service veterans in 2007, a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse from the Michael E. DeBakey Veteran Affairs Medical Center worked with an incomplete spinal cord injured veteran who participated in the Horses for Heroes program.


This program resulted in many benefits for the veteran, including an increase in balance, muscle strength, and self-esteem.


A physical, psychological, and psychosocial benefit of therapeutic horseback riding is shown to have positive results for the spinal cord injured. Therapeutic riding is an emerging field where the horse is used as a tool for physical therapy, emotional growth, and learning.


Veterans returning from the Iraq/Afghanistan war with traumatic brain injuries, blast injuries, depression, traumatic amputations, and spinal cord injuries may benefit from this nurse-assisted therapy involving the horse.