While the age of horse-drawn plows and carriages have passed, many horses are still used today for work purposes. Horses can be found working with people and for people in a variety of places.
Riding for people with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities in the United States was established in the early 70s. The movement of riding a horse mimics the three-dimensional motion of actually walking for people who are unable to do so. Riding enhances muscle development and overall balance, and more recently psychological benefits of interacting with horses are being studied. The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) is one of the primary organizations that provided education and accreditation for therapeutic riding instructors.
In many parts of the country, horses are still used extensively for ranch work. They are especially useful in areas where the rugged terrain makes the use of motorized vehicles limited or impractical. There are many competitive events, such as cutting and roping, that are based in the skills necessary for horses involved with ranch work.
Dude ranches are operations that provide recreational activities for people with horses. People can visit a ranch and have a taste of life in the west. More information is available at www.duderanch.org.
Horses are very useful in police situations where they are often used for crowd control. Horses are also used for search and rescue activities. Many large cities have mounted units within their paid police force. Some countries, such as Canada, have volunteer mounted patrols as well.
Horses are still used in some areas as pack animals, to carry supplies. This is especially common in the West, where the surefooted horse, mule or donkey is well suited to the rugged territory.
Interested in learning more about horses and horse activities? Check out the HorseQuest Learning Lesson: Introduction to Horses and Horse Activities.