I consider myself an animal person. My family has always had a dog, since before I was born. but we have slowly increased to dogs and cats (partially because of my convincing) but I would mainly consider myself a horse person. I have always loved horses, I mean since I was two years old I LOVED horses. When I was four-year old I started riding, when I was eight I got my first horse (who I still have) and then it all snowballed from there. My little herd gre to three and my family decided it was time to move to get our own barn, boarding three horses is quite a fee! This coming spring I am planning to breed my old show mare (female horse). Anyhow my point it I love horses and it has become a huge part of my life over the years.
So it is no surprise that when it comes to therapeutic horse back riding I am a huge supporter. The benefits are tremendous. It helps special needs children with physical, balance, movement, coordination and overall strength. It also helps students with confidence, social and cognitive abilities. I know all the benefits, but had never really seen them first hand until last summer.
I worked at a day camp last summer. One of the women I worked with was a mother to a boy with special needs. ‘Austin’ was severely autistic. ‘Lisa’ took Austin to physical, speech and horse therapy as she called it every week. Austin had been labeled non verbal, but a year into the horse thereby he began to speak. His sentences were comparable to the sentences of a two-year old, but her eight year old son was talking! Lisa really attributes his development to the horse therapy. He had been going to physical and speech therapy for years, literally, but it wasn’t untill he started riding that he talked.
The best part about it is that his first utterance was to his horse. After every ride his main assistant would say, “Austin tell the horse thank you,” or “Austin tell the horse good job.” After about six months Austin said, “Good” at the end of his ride. Lisa was overjoyed. The healing power of animals never ceases to amaze me. Nursing home, hospital and reading dogs are more example of how the presence of animals is comforting and reassuring to people and trust me I never needed any convincing. 🙂