Our journey through autism

Equine Therapy

Also known as hippo-therapy which basically is horseback riding therapy, it is a well known and accepted therapy for those on the autism spectrum. Horseback riding in itself teaches discipline, strength and posture while the movement of the horse teaches the child balance. Dealing with the horse teaches the child compassion towards animals and how to treat them nicely. Used as therapy they also include brushing the horse before and after riding as a sensory stimulation, the child helps with the saddle for fine motor skills, on the horse they have the child use his words to command the horse to “go” and “stop”, they have the child hold on with 1 hand or no hands (for balance and vestibular training), they had little games of stopping the horse leaning down and picking up a toy and dropping it off at another area, the therapists would describe the toy or animal for speech therapy, they also had him throw bean bags into a bucket from atop the horse and pick rings and slide them on horizontal poles. They also let the child ride backwards for awhile also for balance and vestibular training.

Bilal has been in speech and OT for 4 months now and making a lot of progress alhamdullah mashaAllah so we decided we could move onto something else, something beneficial but also fun, so we looked into horseback riding. Last month we had gone to a county fair and they had pony rides and Bilal loved it, he sat tall and held the saddle on his own and had a lot of fun so therapy would be great. When we got to the farm and he could see all the horses in the distance he got really excited and rushed into it, no apprehension towards the new therapists and he followed all directions really well. So we’ve decided to continue with it, an hour a week every weekend weather permitting inshaAllah it will be of benefit to him.

I found the therapy location through the Autism Speaks resource guide website. It’s called Brecht Stables and Dustin’s Place, it was founded by a mother of a child (Dustin) with Down’s Syndrome to teach children with disabilities. It is in Cumming, GA. She has a website, Facebook page (lots of pictures of the farm, horses and her family), and Twitter account.

In Islam there is a Hadith (a saying for the Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him) in which he said “Teach your children swimming, archery and horse riding”  it means that children should grow up fit and knowledgeable of such recreational activities, which at the time were essential to survival, now it could be adapted to mean swimming and car driving but horseback riding is still important as the benefits are so many for children with disabilities and for those typically developing.


Comments on: "Equine Therapy" (7)

  1. NIce article on the benefits of equine therapy for autism.

    Claire Dorotik M.A., author, ON THE BACK OF A HORSE: Harnessing the Healing Power of the Human-Equine Bond

  2. Hi Sarah –

    I saw your post on babycenter about your child’s recent eczema diagnosis. My son had severe eczema, but we determined food was triggering most of it, so he’s much better now.

    I’d like to invite you to my blog where I share my family’s battles with eczema, allergies, and asthma.

    Also, if scratching is a problem, ScratchMeNot, Kumfy Cotton and some other companies all make great clothing to prevent them from hurting themselves. I’ve heard they also work well for autistic children with habitual scratching.

    Good luck!

    • Thank you Jennifer for your concern :). I’ll be sure to check out your blog. Thankfully my son’s eczema is minor, its not even red, just raised bumpy patches on his legs that don’t itch him but kinda hurts when we touch them, and his dermo told us to use moisturizers and he prescribed a lotion to use as well, so far hasn’t improved but hasn’t gotten worse either. Also he doesnt have a sensory issue with clothing he has it with food so any change in diet is difficult but we’ll see what we can do.

      • Oh, that’s wonderful his skin is mild. My daughter has a mild version that sounds like your son’s. We’ve just recently removed gluten and dairy to see if that helps improve her eczema.
        I’m glad you’ve found a good treatment program…that’s half the battle, finding creams and such that work best for each child.


  3. […] in Janurary I wrote this about Equine Therapy at the time I didnt know that there was a difference between hippotherapy and something called […]

  4. […] has been taking horseback riding since Jan. 2012 first as therapeutic riding, then as western riding. When his therapy center started doing hippo-therapy he was considered […]

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