Horse Therapy

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jena, Apr 27, 2008.

  1. Jena

    Jena New Member


    how is everyone?? yup haven't been here in a while.

    so i am taking a training class at a local ranch that deals with therapy with horses for special needs kids. i love horses and i used to teach special needs and i wanted to give back on some level and have always wanted to do this.

    i wanted to share it with all of you. not sure if your states have these programs available at all.

    what i saw there blew me away. the woman who started it began her journey in 1993 and just 3 years ago finally bought her own ranch and is blowing this entire concept out of the water literally. she works with the ieps from schools, and the plan at home. she works with various ranges of diff handicaps or emotional issues. ranging from anxiety disorder manic depressive, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) asperger's blind, physical handicaps, amazing stuff. i saw the numbers the tracking she has done over the years. a huge percentage of kids with whom were medicated when she began working with them and were not doing well overall at home, school, socially are thriving, others have made huge improvements and are now off the medications. i've never seen anything quite like it.

    there are many diff types of therapy concerning the horses i'm just learning about it all and reading the books on it.

    i wanted to tell everyone because i am thinking of getting difficult child involved i can't afford it but there are grants available as well.

    the link to her website just so you can read if anyone is interested is

    Jen :)
  2. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    Wow, I have just recently looked into this for difficult child II, given his love of animal and my love of horses (I rode when I was young and thin) I found a place an hour away from our home. It is the one time when I called a program and told them he was BiPolar (BP) and they did not say "no". I am waiting unitl he's done with Partial hospital to get him registered. My Dad is skeptical thinking he'll get hurt when he freaks out on the horse. But I am willing to try anything. Do you see any BiPolar (BP) kids where you're training???
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think animals can really be helpful to our kids. But I don't think it changes them or cures them on any level. Since it's costly, it's best not to set expectations too higih. JMO
  4. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We have a camp 10 minutes from our house that is for mentally and/or physically challenged kids and they have a wonderful equestrian therapy program. difficult child worked there two summers ago as a horse leader/side walker and she would tell me such wonderful stories about kids who never talked who said their first words while riding a horse or behaviorally challenged kids who suddently became calm around horses. This is one of two programs in our city and they offer so much for all participants. After my difficult child graduates next year I am hoping to start volunteering there myself.

    I'm glad you are involved in such a great program.

  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Sounds wonderful. We have some similar things but not as broad in scope.
    Way To Go. Congrats to you, too ... wanting to give back, after what you've been through... although when it's someone else's kid, and you don't have to be there, it changes the perspective.
    Wish I had that much energy. Someday, when everyone has moved out ...
  6. Jena

    Jena New Member


    ok as far as BiPolar (BP) yes indeed. i saw one little boy aged 8 when i was there who was autistic he initially would throw himself off the horse and beat and pound on it. he is now boarding the horse with-o hesitationa nd looks forward to his therapy with the horse. i saw one manic depressive or BiPolar (BP) child there as well. now ofcourse i am not saying that there is any "one" cure for children at all. Yet what i saw in black and white speaks volumes in regards to huge improvements made even that greater than given by medications to these children. when i think of the word "CURE" i hesitate and think. it evens their moods their fluctuations, that's what various medications do. one little boy was extreme anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and depression like my little difficult child. i said wow how did he handle the dirt the environement of a barn alone must of been traumatic. she said yup we worked him hard for a year striaght. they treat them i saw this in action like anyone else, he didn't want to touch the horse they said well it's going Occupational Therapist (OT) be a little rough to clean him without reaching him figure out how your going Occupational Therapist (OT) do it. so he stood and stared for a while realizing that no one was going to give him an out and eventually he began to take care of the horse and brush it.

    so who knows it's all really interesting. the seriously handicaps blind children, etc. ms that is astounding to see them ontop of a huge horse guiding them with-o a lead through the ring working off what they call "live numbersa" which are volunteers standing at each number in the ring calling out the number.

    i haven't had difficult child on medications for it'll be i think close to 2 1/2 mos. now maybe 3. chlonidine at night which doesnt' even always work. it hasnt' been awful. it takes so much more patience though on my part. i feel guilty often when i slip her the chlonidine because i know i can't survive a 5 a.m. straight thr night.

    i think it's just fascinating, even the way they train their horses for 3 mos. prior to them working with the kids. one horse there cajun, was rescued from katrina he was also gutted out by a bull and survived cancer. he now rides handicapped children. horses are beautiful strong proud creatures.

    ok sorry i rambled it's just this is waht i really should be doing, it's where my heart lies truly with the special needs kids and the animals. not home doing legal work.

  7. Jena

    Jena New Member

    HERRiding encourages:

    Cognitive Activity
    Sensory Integration
    Correct Muscle Tone
    Gross & Fine Motor Skills
    Increased Physical Stamina
    Proper Posture
    Independence & Social Skills
    Emotional Stability
    Self Esteem
    Equine Therapy can produce dramatic and lasting benefits. Depending upon a client 's individual challenges, strengths and goals, equine therapy addresses special needs through a combination of factors:

    The motion of the horse and client 's efforts to maintain a balanced seat help to strenghten the trunk and spine. Because a horse's walking stride is similar in length and cadence to a human's stride, the pelvic movement mimics the action of walking and provides vital exercise for riders who cannot walk independently.

    The content of the session challenges clients cognitively as well as physically. Our long-term goal for our clients is to have them become independent to their greatest ability.

  8. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    We have been using it for over a year...
    Our classes only cost.... $10 a session... now. Once the child has learned ALL of the basics they drop the price based on how much they need. Because I have a lot of horse experience and have had horses, mules etc. I was also a licensed PTA (not anymore due to K) but even husband goes by himself and walks and works with K. He had no horse experience!
    Our Hippotherapy is wonderful. The PT that trains the kids is fully trained and licensed.
    Now N rides as well. We walk alongside of her.
    I think personally it has done wonders for K and N. As far as Sensory issues. N's have decreased so much, so have K's. K has had rages while on the horse... which is scary. But she has learned to deal in this situation. She is so good with animals, if nothing else, the girls have learned something most kids don't understand about animals. They can control a 1200 pound animal and talk to them, comfort them. So many things.
    That is one thing we specifically looked for when deciding to move to Tucson. Besides School, and psychiatristS!!!
    Good for you!!!
    Horses just calm a person... even is it just brushing.
  9. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    K is the only child with Mental Illness... lots of CP. Behaviour Disorders, Autism, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Learning Disorders...
  10. mom_in_training

    mom_in_training New Member

    Equestrian therapy is awesome for special need kiddos. My difficult child volunteered for a program here in Ca and we eventually aquired one of the horses from the program. It was soooo cool to see how much the kids progressed shortly after starting the program. They would come with fear of the horses along with attitude and being uncooporative but it would subside after time. Animals are great therapy for all people but there is something that just magically happens when you have a child that is special needs bond with a massive animal like a horse. The horses are pretty special as well.
  11. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    We have a therapeutic riding arena not far from here. I participated in fund raising long before difficult child's. For the most part, the results were small improvements, but there have been a few cases of absolutely DRAMATIC responses to the horses.

    That said, I've always had horses, and looking back, they are the connection that kept difficult child 1 close enough to me that we got by. Knowing that now, we harness it with difficult child 2. difficult child 2 is the kid who gets rude comments about his hyperactivity from the other parents in the ADHD clinic, yet on a horse, he can sit for hours and absorb his surroundings and conversation and...he was a restless baby, but even then, as a tiny baby, we took him on all day long trail rides and never once does anyone recall him crying. I am a FIRM beleiver in what these animals can provide to some of our kiddos.
  12. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    I just emailed a nearby place to try to get Tink in.

    Horses are just so majestic, I can't imagine any bad coming out of it.
  13. Jena

    Jena New Member


    that's really cool that all of you have experienced this as well. equine therapy is very interesting. did anyone see any difference in mood or adjusting sleep patterns over course of time???

    i think i'm def going to try adn get difficult child into it
  14. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Both of my difficult child's were calm during and after rides. difficult child 1 didn't do anything at the therapeutic center, like difficult child 2 did, so I can't compare him, but difficult child 2 was always calmer after trail rides than therapeutic riding. However, therapeutic riding really helped him with his social skills, so... He started therapeutic riding refusing to participate in anything or speak to any other kids...he ended it jabbering up a storm to everyone and playing ALL of their games.

    As for sleep, both difficult child's sleep good on nights we trail ride.

    I'm trying to think of a time that a ride didn't go well because of difficult child behavior, and honestly, I'm not coming up with one. difficult child 1 started really riding when he was 7 or so, and by the time he was around 10, we rode with friends 4-5 nights a week, even if it was just in the arena for an hour. I recall a time he refused to tie his horse and we had to chase it back down the trail, but that is all I can recall. difficult child 2 has ridden since he was 3 months old. He didn't like to be held, but never once did he cry to be put down on rides. We changed diapers, mixed bottles, he napped, etc, all nestled in my arms in the saddle. Thinking about it now, odd for a baby who didn't like to cuddle...but he was never cause for stopping or taking a break (we always did take breaks every few hours, but never because he demanded it).

    There are some days that getting the horses caught and ready to ride with difficult child 2 around is more than I care to do, and I've been known to give up in the past, but I'm learning. Its worth calling in reinforcements to either get them ready for me or chase difficult child while I do. Having horses with difficult child 1 was an "accident". I had them cause I liked them. Hindsight, tho, suggests it was a really great coincidence. I'll fight tooth and nail to make sure difficult child 2 has horses around, too.