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Pegs

Riding for the disabled

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Has anyone accessed this program (or similar) for their DC? I'd love to hear how it went for you.

 

8yo DS (ASD-1 and anxiety) has been on a few trail rides of late, and a passion has been ignited. He told a friend lately, "I don't just want to ride a horse, I want to bond with a horse."

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Friends of ours have a young adult daughter with autism who has been doing therapeutic riding since she was little. They can tell a positive difference in weeks where she's been riding vs. when she's had to miss. It's not cheap, but they consider it as necessary (for her) as ADHD meds or glasses.

 

It sounds like you have a good reason to check it out! Alternatively, if that is too expensive or has some other thing that makes it unfeasible, I think there are also programs where kids can work with animals. Around here, they take kids 9 years and older to work with alpacas, for instance. Obviously a therapeutic program might be the best, but depending on your son's particular strengths and weaknesses (impulsivity, awareness of danger, ability to learn the animal's body language, etc.), a well-run mainstream program might be willing to work with him too.

 

Good luck!

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I have heard good things about hippotherapy. We haven’t done it, my son is just now at an age where it would make sense for him and we are doing different things.

 

I have heard of kids gaining confidence and being more willing to interact. I have heard of kids having help with sensory as well. I have heard of kids becoming more willing to be responsible by having responsibility for the horse, and parents seeing them as more capable.

 

Edit: definitely I’ve heard that kids had a good experience, I haven’t heard anything negative :)

Edited by Lecka
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Dd13 did this for a few years, with mixed results.

 

The program we have available is fantastic; dd's difficulties came from the fact that she is much more capable than most of the students who were riding there. She did not actually need the level of assistance which was mandatory (I'm sure for excellent reasons) within that program.

 

At first she loved it, but she soon became frustrated with the limitations: never trotting farther than one length of the arena because volunteers had to run alongside, never cantering, never jumping.

 

I had signed her up under the impression that therapy was involved in some fashion. For some kids, I'm sure the exercise itself is therapeutic. The riding was extremely important to dd, but it was never more than riding: no emphasis on social skills practice, or emotional control, or so forth. We ended up with two main benefits. It was exercise which she loved, unlike most other exercise opportunities, and it provided me with a last-ditch, nuclear-level consequence for major behavior problems, because her lesson could be cancelled. (We've done this very seldom.)

 

After a couple of years dd was getting very frustrated with the limitations of the therapeutic program, and we switched her to a regular stable. That, too, has pros and cons. She's getting way more exercise, but she actually needs more help getting the horse groomed and tacked up than the stable can readily provide, so either her sister or a friend helps her, or I do. She can manage all the physical aspects, but pacing herself and not getting distracted is an issue. She made fast progress compared to other disabled kids, but she's progressing very slowly in the regular stable. There was an initial assessment that after a month of private lessons, she could join a class. Well, it's six months later, and no one is suggesting she should be in a class any longer. The progress is just slower.

 

So, in general, riding can be great. It's fantastic for sensory seekers, and building core body strength. But you might want to evaluate programs carefully, with an eye to your ds's own individual needs. Either a therapeutic or regular program might work.

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We have Special Equestrians where I live. I've filled out the forms for my dd, but I have to have her pediatrician sign off before I submit them.

 

One of my twins used to be a volunteer with SE. I asked her about it tonight. She said they do try to keep the riders with the same horse--bonding with the horses is one of the goals. This is probably true of any therapeutic riding program. 

 

I have no idea what the situation is where you live or what programs you have access to... Special Equestrians here has a waiting list. It can take up to two years for a spot to become available. :( 

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They think they might have a spot available for him! I'm quite excited. :)

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They think they might have a spot available for him! I'm quite excited. :)

 

That's amazing! I'm really happy to hear this! You'll have to keep us updated--especially since we'll probably be waiting awhile to start. I'd love to hear how it goes.

Edited by stephensgirls

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That's amazing! I'm really happy to hear this! You'll have to keep us updated--especially since we'll probably be waiting awhile to start. I'd love to hear how it goes.

Yes, for sure! I'll keep you posted. :)

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Has anyone accessed this program (or similar) for their DC? I'd love to hear how it went for you.

 

8yo DS (ASD-1 and anxiety) has been on a few trail rides of late, and a passion has been ignited. He told a friend lately, "I don't just want to ride a horse, I want to bond with a horse."

 

My son does, it's been a wonderful experience for him. He loves it and now volunteers there. He was with the same horse for six months, then he was ready to trot more but the horse was older and having some difficulty with his joints with the cold weather, so he was transitioned to a younger horse. The transition went well and ds actually likes this horse more because he's peppier to work with and very expressive. He's doing very well with the program. 

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That's great! Thanks for your feedback.

 

We're still waiting to hear back from the waitlist coordinator.

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DS started riding today. He had a fabulous time, and everyone says he's a natural. :)

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DS started riding today. He had a fabulous time, and everyone says he's a natural. :)

 

Yay! So happy for you both! Maybe he'll be volunteering there someday. 

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Yay! So happy for you both! Maybe he'll be volunteering there someday.

Maybe! That would be cool.

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