Equestrian therapy is a form of therapy that makes use of horses to help promote emotional growth. [It] is particularly applied to patients with ADD, anxiety, autism, dementia, delay in mental development, down syndrome and other genetic syndromes, depression, trauma and brain injuries, behavior and abuse issues and other mental health issues.(source:https://www.equestriantherapy.com/equestrian-therapy/)
From our director "The children go each week. It really was a miraculous blessing that it happened. Keenan happened to be with some of our friends at the spa and while they were chatting with a man there, Keenan had mentioned the our OSSO children used to go to horse riding at the Calvary base down the street from OSSO. The man actually owns and runs a horse training facility and said that a woman was running a hippotherapy section. Long story short, she (Carol) invited us free of charge to ride every week and to pay for the transportation to get there and back from OSSO. We now take all the casa children (those who aren't in school or are pulled out) and the OSSO children every Tuesday.
Carol studies hippotherapy (or horse therapy) in University and even in Spain for a while. She has 3 different groups come including a down syndrome group and an autistic group and many other individuals. The children ride the horses in various different positions to increase movement, balance, relaxation among other things that you can look up online. Interaction with horses has proven to be very emotionally stimulating as well. Some of the positions include riding backwards, to each side, on their backs, on their stomachs and leading the horse by hand if the child walks. While on the horse, those children that are able to, are sometimes asked to do a task like throwing a ball through a hoop. These things help them balance and stimulate them.
We've seen children who normally never react to much of their surroundings just cry their eyes out on the horse. Although it may seem disturbing to witness or hear, it's actually a great experience. That child is able to react and express emotion and is stimulated by their environment. You can watch some children get on the horse worried and tense at first and then just melt like butter by the end, at one with the horse. Some of the children have grown accustomed to going each week and one now heads straight to the horse in the arena and climbs up the steps and swings his leg over the horse without even being prompted practically.
To insure the upmost safety for our children, we coach the volunteers a bit to be sure they feel comfortable with the task at hand. OSSO volunteers know the children better when if comes to the individual children. The Physical Therapist is the one that knows best though and she always accompanies us each week. Some children can't open their legs so they can only sit in specific positions. Some children don't hold themselves up on the horse well and our volunteers must help them which can be difficult. There are volunteers from the schools that come to help while we're there and there are people from the horse facility that help us out as well."- Sasha