Riding a horse helps to integrate the senses and understanding of how one’s body relates to external forces and surfaces. A horse moves a person in more than one way, by tilting, rotating, and moving the rider, which would take a whole session of difficult physical therapy exercises to achieve. Sitting on a horse improves core muscle strength, muscle symmetry, balance, posture, flexibility, circulation, coordination, and breathing (which also makes it easier to speak).
Hippotherapy can greatly improve an autistic person’s sense of their own bodies in space. In lieu of a saddle, our mounted activities frequently involve a close fitted pad with handles, allowing the rider to closely receive sensations from the horse’s movements, with an added sense of security. In a safe way, this method enhances awareness of where which parts of his/her body are in relation to the horse - integrating cause and effect.
The excitement of riding encourages speech when the rider wants to communicate with the horse and the attending therapists. Non-verbal autistic children have suddenly started talking when they use the horse’s name or ask the horse to get moving! The therapy provides a solid yet enjoyable period of time for stimulation and exercise.
We are so pleased to welcome Cosmo into our herd. He is an Equicizer" - a mechanical horse that makes for a safe and approachable learning tool for many of our riding students.
To see Cosmo in action click here.