There are quite a few therapeutic riding facilities, but this facility uses on the ground training to help students with Asperger’s learn how to communicate better with humans. “One of the reasons why the horse program is so beneficial to our students with Asperger’s is because in many ways there are a lot of similarities between the horses and the students,” says Dr. Temple Grandin.
“Our students experience a lot of anxiety when interacting with other people and when you look at the horses that are used here in this program (and all horses in general) they are animals of prey. They are very guarded in their social interactions. They are very unsure and very anxious interacting with anyone, just like the students,” she continues.
Students can really understand where the horse is coming from since a lot of their actions are based on fear.
These students work the horses on the ground, so they can pick up their body language and other non-verbal cues. It’s a way for them to better understand this “silent” communication that many we use as well. These skills can later be transferred to interactions with other humans.
The students say they have learned to interact better with others since starting the programs. One student says it’s nice because you don’t have to talk to the horse if you don’t want to.
It’s so amazing to watch and to know what an impact a horse can have in our lives. I know I spent many hours as a teenager talking to my horse instead of a person – they were so much easier to tell problems to! Do you work with a therapeutic riding program? If so, tell us in the comments.