Therapeutic Horseback Riding
for Kids with Autism
Therapeutic horseback riding for kids with autism has proven to be beneficial in helping those kids expand their skills. There are many activities that benefit kids with autism, but therapeutic horseback riding is growing in popularity not only for the fun it offers, but also for the therapeutic benefits it provides. Kids who have autism or Asperger disorder are able to improve their communication skills as well as their gross motor skills, which makes horseback riding one of the most beneficial activities for kids struggling with autism.
Emotional Benefits : Children learn to bond with their horses and care for them, giving each child the ability to create a relationship with one of these magnificent creatures. In some cases, nonverbal kids have started to talk to their horses, while kids with sensitivities to touching and being touched have shown physical affection towards horses in the form of hugs and kisses. Children learn to care for the horses; creating an emotional connection that many parents don’t even realize is possible. Over time, feelings of empathy are fostered, which is something that many experts previously thought that kids with autism were not capable of learning.
Cognitive Benefits : Beyond the emotional bonds, horseback riding offers cognitive benefits. Children learn to groom their horses, creating the opportunity for growth when it comes to following instructions, recognizing colors and shapes, and learning new vocabulary words. While these lessons can be tried in a classroom setting, this unique setting is less intimidating, allowing for improved results. There are even some activities that can be done while on horseback, like throwing colored balls into baskets during a ride. Integrating classroom-style activities combined with the calming effect of the animals can have a profound impact on an autistic child’s ability to learn new things.