Thursday, August 12, 2010

Equine-assisted Therapy

I have always associated horse riding with machismo until today, when I got a file in which the patient who suffered from autism and also Asperger's syndrome was referred for equine therapy.

In an Equine Assisted Activities program, a certified or specially trained riding instructor teaches a person with a disability how to ride a horse. However, the environment of the horse can provide more than just riding skills. The programs which offer the equine environment to people with disabilities can teach companionship, responsibility, leadership, vocational, educational skills as well as offer competition venues in the different horse disciplines. Riding a horse provides a unique and often profound recreational or leisure activity for many people. There are many sports which people who have disabilities can participate in for enhancing their lives which offer social and physical fitness as addressed in the Special Olympic programs for people with a cognitive disability. There are hundreds of programs around the world as well as many organizations dedicated to the various forms of horse riding or horse care which address many other disabilities and may not have a cognitive disability.

The student who interacts with their horse may extend this to others and to form meaningful relationships with people. Building a relationship with an animal is very rewarding in many aspects; for a person with an emotional, social or psychological disability, the trust and loyalty of an animal demonstrates to the student how important they are and then they may extend these attributes to personal relationships. Horses also help people feel in control of their situation because there is a direct correlation between action and reaction. To learn how to care for and ride a horse, a student must also be able to communicate efficiently with the horse and the instructor. In this way, riding is a very social activity, but is less daunting to people who are uncomfortable in social situations. However, the experience of riding a horse is very different. Riding helps to empower people and enables them to connect on a personal level. The sometimes unpredictable nature of animals and situations also creates a real-life environment in which students will be able to confront fears and make adjustments to situations beyond their control.


  1. Never rode a horse.. never gave a thought that so much went into it.. and it ment so much for some people.

    Now that you have wrote about it.. I will seriously see if I can get my hands on a good horse who would allow me to ride on his back.. this reminds me of The Phantom riding Hero

  2. best of luck to both of u...:-)