Equine Therapy Aids Children on the Autism Spectrum

February 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Currently pursuing psychology degree at the University of North Texas, Kelly Dillard spent two years on the school’s dance team and has also competed in several beauty pageants in the North Texas area. In addition to her academics and extracurricular activities, Kelly Dillard actively supports a number of charitable causes, among them WALK ON, an organization that promotes horse therapy for children on the autism spectrum.

Equine therapy is a method of using horses to encourage emotional growth in individuals with conditions ranging from autism and conduct disorders to depression, anxiety, and dementia. The therapist will often begin by teaching the individual how to make the horse follow without touching it; students usually learn that the most effective way to communicate with a horse is with firm, soft commands, rather than yelling or clapping. The therapist also teaches how to lead the horse, a practice that encourages both physical and emotional bonding.

Typically, equine therapy also focuses on grooming, saddlery, and basic riding procedures, all aimed at increasing confidence and social skills.

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