Equine Therapy

The Anderson Center is working with a nearby equine therapy stable to provide horse-assisted therapy for children and teenagers. Being with and riding horses is a growing and widely accepted therapy for rehabilitating a range of physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. For individuals with mental or emotional disabilities, the unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience, self-esteem, awareness and mobility, anticipatory response, body localization, spatial organization and socialization skills.

One of the Anderson Center students has a history of abuse that started at a young age. She struggles with anxiety that cause her to become unresponsive. It takes her an extremely long time to build trust with others; as she typically freezes even in the most casual of conversations. In equine therapy, she was required to communicate with the horses and volunteers in order to get the horses to follow her instruction. The therapists were able to process through her fear and variations of anxiety through the use of the horses. This process would not have been possible without the availability of the equine program.

Another one of our students significantly struggles with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD, which makes him very impulsive and oppositional. He often struggles to see outside of himself and consider how his behaviors impact his relationships and others around him. The student was matched with the most defiant and impulsive mini-horse on the farm. He was able to process his experience/frustration with the horse's failure to comply with his riding directions. This experience helped the student see how his behaviors and defiance impact his ability to develop meaningful relationships.

Another student is diagnosed with Asperger's, which makes him particular with detail and slow to adapt to change. He was afraid of the horses, because of a previous experience. With encouragement from family and staff, the student agreed to go to the farm but remained adamant that he would not be participating. Once the student was on site, he was observed challenging his fears with the horses and by the end of the session was ecstatic to ride his horse. This gave the therapy team the opportunity to address the benefits of change, adjustment, and flexibility with the student and incorporate it into his daily living.