Horses and benefits for all



The bond between man and horse has long been documented, and appears to have many emotional and healing benefits. It doesn’t matter who you are, doing something fun, active and outdoors is good for our physical, mental health and all round wellbeing.


Researchers have specifically noted that children and young people with additional needs seem to particularly benefit from interaction with horses, with therapists frequently using horses to reach those children who have difficulty bonding emotionally to others. Informal, interactive ‘fun days’ are also very common, introducing children and young people to the routines that accompany caring for a horse, providing many opportunities for sensory engagement. Grooming, feeding and leading horses are often enjoyed just as much as riding the horse itself.


Autistic children often struggle to make eye contact, communicate their feelings and express themselves to people around them. By learning to care for and communicate with a horse in a variety of different ways, trust and an emotional connection is created.


A reduction in the symptoms of anxiety, depression and irritability have been noted too, as well as helping those with unique social challenges to overcome their fears, both immediately and in the longer term. The act of looking after and being responsible for another being, are important life lessons to be learnt.


Autistic children often find comfort in familiar routines, much the same can be said for horses. Horses often mirror emotions too, an excitable rider can result in an excitable horse! Riders therefore have to focus on their own behaviour in order to have a positive effect on their horse, applying their full attention on the task at hand.


Building confidence, trust and empathy, plus improving impulse control and emotional awareness are just a few of the benefits that have been identified by professionals.


Our children enjoy weekly sessions with a variety of different local external providers that offer interaction with horses. The sense of achievement when certificates and rosettes are awarded for gaining and achieving new skills, is significant, and we are very proud to be able to offer interaction with horses as part of our curriculum.


References:

https://myasdf.org/media-center/articles/how-your-autistic-child-can-benefit-from-equine-therapy/#:~:text=emotional%2C%20healing%20bond.-,Horses%20are%20used%20by%20physical%2C%20speech%2C%20and%20occupational%20therapists%20to,come%20with%20riding%20a%20horse.


https://www.nfa.co.uk/story/story_category/horse-therapy-and-its-benefits-for-children-and-young-people/


https://www.verywellmind.com/equine-therapy-mental-health-treatment-4177932