It is common to hear of therapy with support animals like dogs, but not everyone has heard of therapy horses. Many people who have worked with horses will tell you that it relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves the person’s overall health. This post is going to outline the benefits of equine therapy.
What Is Equine Therapy?
Equine therapy does not mean that you will have to ride a horse, but it is when a therapist walks children through different activities and interactions with horses. This interaction helps children make connections with horses. However, the soothing feeling of riding a horse can also help with relaxing a child.
That is why people use real horses or simulations like the one at REST. The rocking feeling helps people relax when they are in a stressful state.
What Does Equine Therapy Treat?
Many different mental health and neurological conditions, and mental issues can be treated with equine therapy. Also, this therapy session can happen either in a personal or group therapy session. Some of the conditions that equine therapy can help with are:
- Behavioral Problems
- Down Syndrome
- Eating Disorders
The Benefits of Equine Therapy
There are many different benefits to equine therapy, so people use it for children and their needs. Listed below are some of the main advantages of equine therapy:
Build an Emotional Connection
Many neurological conditions make it hard for some people to communicate, which means they will struggle to form social connections. When this happens, they can find it hard to make eye contact or express their feelings to another person. If the child were to be a part of equine therapy, they wouldn’t be encouraged to speak to the horse, but they will learn the importance of physical communication.
An example of this would be brushing, hugging, and petting the horses. All of these actions will help the child learn about actions that show affection, which allows them to associate them with creating emotional bonds. These actions can then be transferred to other people.
Another reason why equine therapy is helpful is that many children with neurological processing conditions may experience issues with sensory processing. Horse riding will help them positively connect with their sensory capabilities through visuals, smells, and touch.
Additionally, horse riding will help the child with their spatial awareness and balance because they need to keep themselves upright. Their senses will be used as the ride’s rhythm, incline, and speed changes.
A Reduction in Irritability and an Increase in Moods
When someone can’t properly express themselves, they can become very irritated. However, this is heightened when someone has behavioral problems. Luckily, there has been a lot of research done regarding equine therapy, and researchers have found that equine therapy can help with this problem. It has been found that equine therapy can help with irritability in the immediate situation and for long-term improvement.
An example would be that children with autism like to have a routine and struggle when their routine is broken. It may be challenging to get them to begin the therapy because it is a new part of their routine, but they will appreciate that horses also like to have their routine. This will also help them with building a connection with the animal.
Children with ADHD and autism may struggle with hypersensitivity. This means that the children struggle to delay their reactions or give their full attention to one particular task. However, equine therapy will help children focus on their tasks because it is physical. Having physical therapy will encourage them to be more engaged with it.
Also, since it is a rhythmic experience, it can help soothe any of their frustrations. Lastly, horses are very calm and have slower movements than other animals. This means that they are less likely to have any unpredictable movements that disturb the person.
Improve Language Skills
This benefit of speech depends on the child’s cognitive and social development, but many children who struggle with neurological conditions may have difficulty developing their language skills. Some children may be able to communicate with speech, while others may communicate with minimal speech. Additionally, other children may not use speech but communicate through physical communication.
However, equine therapy allows the child to use their verbal communication skills with their therapist in a simple manner. They will be able to communicate how they are grooming and caring for their horse. Also, they will need to give the animal direct instructions to have them do what they want.
When the horse follows the directions given to them by the child, this will make them more enthusiastic when it comes to their communication. This positive accomplishment will show them how important verbal communication is while demonstrating its effectiveness on others. Overall, this skill will help them with other verbal communication they may need to participate in.
No matter what therapy is decided for any child, it is essential to complete the appropriate research. However, equine-assisted therapy has been proven to help children with neurological disabilities and additional mental health problems. Luckily, people do not need to rent or own a horse. Instead, a simulation can be purchased.
Many therapists and teachers have used equine simulator therapy to help children with their additional needs. This is where the child will sit on a machine, and it will move like a horse. Many people have found that this simulator helps children with their relaxation and calmness. Overall, equine therapy will help many children and their needs.
REST: Because it works
It’s time to put REST into your life. And take advantage of all of the benefits equine therapy has to offer any time, any place. At Gait, we firmly believe it will be a powerful, rewarding, and effective tool for helping treat your special needs child, children, or adult.
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