Winston Churchill famously said, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man,” and parents with struggling kids are discovering how true this quote can be for their children.
It can be challenging to raise children and teens with either developmental or behavioral issues. They might take time to respond to traditional forms of therapy, and the parents might find their slow progress demoralizing. It’s only natural for them to seek out other solutions to help their children and most turn to equine therapy.
Anyone who rides or spends time with horses will tell you that these awesome creatures have exceptional benefits for both kids and adults. It’s therefore not surprising that several equine programs have come up across the country. These programs offer different things, ranging from those that use therapeutic horseback riding to assist kids with disabilities to improve their motor skills and ability to connect with others to equine residential treatment centers for troubled teens.
While these programs employ different forms of equine therapy, they all have one thing in common – using horses to change and improve lives.
How Equine Therapy Improves Children’s Lives:
Parents who turn to equine therapy are often pleasantly surprised at the changes they see in their child or teen. Horses have their own special charm, and they have a way of teaching while healing those who interact with them.
So, what some of the benefits can kids derive from equine therapy?
- They regain the ability to trust - Trust is a delicate thing where children with emotional or behavioral needs are concerned. Due to abuse or neglect, some of these kids are unable to trust their parents or caregivers. However, they soon come to realize that horses are different. They accept you as you are and have no hidden agenda. This makes it easy for these kids to let down their guard and trust again.
- They learn to pay mindful attention to the present - Children and teens who experience stress at home eventually relax when working at a ranch or barn. They forget their troubles for a while as the duties they are given, from grooming, exercising or riding horses to mucking out the stalls or cleaning tack demand their attention. They immerse themselves fully in these tasks and at the end of the day, find themselves tired but emotionally refreshed.
- Improved communication - Developmental or behavioral challenges can make it difficult to identify and respond to non-verbal cues. Most children with these issues tend to lash out in anger or timidly withdraw. Interacting with horses encourages such children to change how they communicate. Horses don’t speak, so they rely on non-verbal communication to relay how they feel. If a teen is angry or aggressive, the horse startles and retreats. If a child is too shy or timid, they won’t influence the horse. These are teachable moments as the children realize how their behavior directly affects those around them.
If you are the parent of a troubled or struggling child or teen, why not give equine therapy a try? Horses might just succeed where other types of therapy have made little headway.