Equine therapy for special needs is an animal-assisted therapy to help children with a wide variety of disabilities. This type of therapy makes use of riding horses as an effective way of providing physical and emotional therapy as well as psychological benefits to patients especially children and adolescents suffering from autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, visual and hearing impairment, anxiety disorder, learning disorder, substance abuse, multiple sclerosis, development disorder, muscular dystrophy, amputation, brain injury as well as behavioral problems.
There are many benefits of equine therapy. It can improve motor coordination, posture, balance, muscle tone, concentration, self-esteem and self-confidence in riders with special needs.
Equine therapy for special needs usually makes use of the rocking motion and gait of the horse to simulate the natural sway of the pelvis during walking. Horse riding serves as a training activity for the body of the individual to move in the right way. The horse gait and rocking motion also help in developing muscle tone and coordination to effectively help the patient in standing and walking.
Speech and social skills development
Children who find it hard to speak are taught to use their own words to command the horse on what to do. They learn to use the right words to call the horse including mentioning the horse’s name which eventually improves their confidence as well as develop their speech.
The correct interaction of the child with the horse also serves as an essential tool for improving the social skills of the child with respect to humans.
Equine therapy for special needs is an enjoyable way of helping children with their disabilities regardless of whether they can’t clearly talk, are sitting on a wheelchair or have a history of emotional difficulties.
Riding a horse is always enjoyable while helping the disabled become enabled.
The fact that the patient is outdoor and breathing fresh air while interacting with the horse is an experience even normal people will envy. Instead of being in a hospital or a doctor’s office, the joy brought about by equine therapy is undeniably an exciting way of curing children with disabilities.
Another reason for enjoyment is that the use of horses is considered non-judgmental. It provides no prejudices to the healing process.
The process of using a horse for therapy is really phenomenal and cannot be simulated by any machine or device.