When a horse's movement is transferred to a rider, it produces a combination of sensory, motor and neurological input that benefits a wide variety of diagnoses. Horses create a dynamic, three-dimensional movement that cannot be reproduced.
What To Expect
Being on a horse addresses many of these needs. The horse provides strong sensory stimulation to muscles and joints, impacts the balance and movement sense detected by sensory receptors, and provides varied tactile (touch) experiences as the rider hugs or pats the horse. Watching the horse and other riders is also visually stimulating, while hearing the hoofs and smelling the barn impact other senses.
Auditory Processing and communication goals are addressed by asking the rider to follow simple or multi-step directions (such as "turn to face backwards and give me high five") and the rider is encouraged to communicate directions to the horse ("go" or "whoa") by using words or actions (pulling on the reins).
Special relationships can be develop with their horse. The bond between the horse and the patient encourages the child to form an attachment and interaction with another living being, which is especially difficult for children with autism to achieve.
Instructors help develop memory and concentration; strength, balance, and coordination; a sense of body-awareness; and improved socialization. And one of the greatest benefits is the enjoyment kids get out of it. They don't even realize that they are participating in a therapeutic activity - it's just a lot of fun.