Background: There is limited global and South African research on parents’ perceptions of therapeutic horseback riding (THR), as well as their perceptions of the effect of the activity on their children with disabilities.
Objective: To explore and describe parents’ perceptions and experiences of THR as an activity for their children with disabilities.
Method: Twelve parents whose children attend THR lessons at the South African Riding for the Disabled Association in Cape Town were asked to participate in a semi-structured interview. The qualitative data obtained from the interviews were first transcribed and then analysed using thematic analysis to establish parents’ perceptions of the THR activity.
Results: The main themes that emerged included parental perceived effects of THR on children, parents’ personal experiences of the services, and parents’ perceived reasons for improvements in the children. The participating parents indicated that THR had had a positive psychological, social and physical effect both on the children participating in the riding, as well as on the parents themselves.
Conclusion: According to parents, THR plays an important role in the lives of children with various disabilities and in the lives of their parents. The results of the study address the gap in the literature regarding parents’ perceptions of THR.