3 Benefits of Horse Therapy for Your Child with Special Needs
My son Isaiah absolutely LOVES his horse therapy! 😊💕
In today’s blog post, I am going to talk about some of the incredible benefits of equine therapy...also known as horse therapy.
We were in the middle of my son's physical therapy appointment, when his therapist recommended that we might check out getting equine therapy for my son.
She mentioned that the benefits are really great and it is a really fun activity for therapy.
So after I got home, I did a simple google search to find places near us that offered equine therapy. At the time we lived in Portland, Oregon and I found a place about 30 minutes from us. It was called Forward Stride.
I had to fill out an online application and then we went onto their waitlist.
I had no idea how long we would be on the waitlist, but it turned out to be about a year that we were on the waitlist.
I was SOO excited when we finally got an email saying that we could come in for Isaiah to have an evaluation for horse therapy with them.
I remember feeling so afraid that they were going to say that Isaiah was not qualified for horse therapy because he could not sit up on his own nor did he have enough head control on his own.
But to my delight…...after the evaluation, the owner/therapist said with excitement in her voice “Isaiah are you excited to start horse therapy next week?”
It was at that moment that I realized that she WAS going to allow Isaiah to do the horse therapy even though he couldn’t sit on his own or even control his head very well on his own.
To say I was tickled pink is an understatement!! 😊👍
I could hardly wait for the next week to take Isaiah to his first horse therapy appointment.
At Forward Stride, Isaiah’s physical therapist's name was Sheila. She was absolutely Incredible!! 😊👍
She was very kind, patient and gifted with working with Isaiah both on the horse as well as off of the horse.
Isaiah also had a horse trainer who led the horse while Isaiah was on the horse....as a safety precaution.
Isaiah had one physical therapist on either side of him the whole time that he was on the horse.
So basically he had 3 people surrounding him for every horse therapy section.
One person on either side of him and the horse trainer who was in front of both Isaiah and the horse.
The horse's name was Pippen.
Pippen was a very well trained horse.
Pippen would patiently wait until Isaiah gave her the verbal cue to “Go” before she would take her first step.
Now, Isaiah is non verbal, so I was super curious how Pippen would know when to go since Isaiah can’t say a word…...but it turns out that Pippen is SOO well trained that she knows to accept any verbal cue from her rider as an indication to “go”.
So Isaiah would just open his mouth and make a noise…..any noise, and then Pippen would take her first step and begin walking.
It truly was incredible to watch!
For the first time in Isaiah's life, Isaiah realized that he had 100% complete control over something and he loved it!
It was very exciting to him and his smile from ear to ear proved just how happy and excited he felt.
Three Benefits of Horse Therapy:
One of the many benefits of horse therapy was that Isaiah learned that he had the power to control Pippen.
Isaiah knew that Pippen would patiently wait for him to give Pippen the verbal cue to “go”.
Isaiah learned that even though he can’t say a word, he still has the power and control.
What a powerful realization!!
From feeling like he has no control over anything or very little control over anything to recognizing that he has full 100% control over when he is ready for his horse therapy to begin.
This is the case for any person who does horse therapy. They realize that they have control over their horse and it is an exciting and liberating feeling for them, especially when they are very limited in other areas of their life.
2.) Another benefit of horse therapy is that it helps with balance.
In order to stay on the horse, you have to focus on working your core muscles in order to stay balanced on the center of the horse.
This is great for people who have poor muscle tone.
3.) In addition, another great benefit of horse therapy is that it helps with ambulation.
The back and forth rocking motion of being on the horse helps those who aren’t able to walk get used to the feeling of what it’s like to lean on one side and take a step and then lean on the other side to be able to take another step.
Being on the horse while the horse is walking, simulates the motion of walking for the rider of the horse.
Each step that the horse takes causes the riders hips to gently sway back and forth, much like how their hips would move if the person were walking.
There are many more benefits to horse therapy…..but I just wanted to briefly cover a couple of them in this blog post.
So in conclusion, here are three benefits of horse therapy for a child with special needs:
1.) The child gets to experience the power of being in control, especially when many other areas of their life may be totally out of their control.
2.) Horse therapy helps with balance.
3.) Horse therapy helps with ambulation…(the back and forth motion of walking).
There is hardly a greater joy in life, then seeing your child beaming with joy overflowing.
I am extremely grateful that I found out about horse therapy and was able to take Isaiah so he could experience it first hand.
Somethings in life truly are priceless!!
So let me know in the comments below if you have ever tried horse therapy for your child and if so, how did they like it?
~ If you are a parent of a special needs child, I would Love to have you in my private FB group. It is a safe environment, strictly for parents with special needs kids, where you can get the encouragement and support from other parents who can relate to what you are going through. The name of my private FB group is “Special Needs Parenting SOS.” ~ 😇💕