Horse Therapy MAY BE A GOOD MATCH for the rider who does not have any of the below listed contraindications AND for whom traditional therapies have had limited effect. Students who have sensory, attentional and speech fluency issues, as well as flexibility challenges tend to thrive in this program. Students who are nonverbal also tend to be successful as the motivation to use their speech ( if able ) overwhelms them and they get repeated opportunities to practice speaking to ask the horse to “go”. Because we generally offer a 4 to 1 adult to student ratio, a social group is automatically created providing for social interaction and pragmatic use of language. Riders who love animals and enjoy being around horses/farms do exceptionally well, though that is not a requirement or the only predictor of success.
A meet/greet session is required in Bedford at the main office, and/or at the farm in Salem NH prior to initiating programming free of charge. This session gives the rider and family the opportunity to meet the staff/horses, observe a session in progress, ask questions and acclimate to the environment. It is also essential at that time for the clinician to evaluate candidacy of the rider as well as to assist with decision making regarding which horse and tack to be used for that specific rider and to set clinical goals. Riders coming in with medical diagnoses will require an MD’s referral to participate in horse therapy activities.
Horse Therapy might NOT be a good match IF:
- there are medical contraindications.
- the rider has severe allergies to horses. The discomfort directly from the allergy, or the side effects of medications, might cause changes in the “learning” part of the brain.
- the rider is terrified of horses or large animals. This, however, could be tested by having the rider come just to visit the property and watch his/her reaction to the animals indirectly moving around them.
- the rider is unable to sit up independently. Further, we do not service wheel chair patients at this facility at this time.
- the rider exceeds 180 lbs. This limit is not just for the safety of the rider but for the side walkers who are responsible for keeping that rider safe.
- violent behavior is exhibited or if the rider has a history of jumping off/out of platform-like objects.
- Any reason the director feels might compromise the safety or comfort of the rider, to be determined at the meet/greet session and/or through discussion with other professionals involved in the case.