Inspired by Lewis explores the benefits of animals for socially challenged children.
August 8, 2016
Animals have always had the potential to warm our hearts, whether it be our lovable furry pets or the adorable animals in their natural habitat.
Studies have suggested that pets and animals can serve to be therapeutic. The development of the human–animal bond can have a profound effect on an individual and an evolving body of evidence suggests this bond can have therapeutic effects (DeCourcey, Russell, & Keister, 2010). Pets and animals provide opportunities for motivational, educational and recreational benefits to enhance quality of life.
Equestrian therapy is a form of therapy that uses horses to promote emotional growth particularly 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. Equestrian or equine therapy is also an effective technique for many therapists to teach troubled youth on how they learn, react and follow instructions. In the therapy program are lessons on horse care, horse grooming, saddling and basic equestrian.
During our summer camp, Inspired by Lewis chose to explore the power of this form of therapy by taking our group of kids to The Jennifer L. Buck Stables in Marietta. Here the children were taught not only how to ride the horses but how to groom, prepare and lead them. Everyone listened and followed directions as they learned a new skill while making a new four-legged friend at the same time.
Commencing with introductions, everyone stayed focused as they eagerly awaited their opportunity to ride the horses. The horse trainers reviewed the necessary horse safety, as well as the rules and regulations that needed to be followed. Upon completion of the introductory lesson, the students were asked to sign an agreement that they would follow the listed rules.
Now with all of the paperwork out of the way, it was time to meet our new friends! First we allowed both the horse and child to become familiar with each other by teaching the kids how to groom the horses. It was important to be gentle and follow directions.
The next step was to get the horses out of the stable and learn how to lead them. With patience and leadership skills everyone successfully learned how to lead their horse!