Pet Pointers: Therapeutic benefits of working with animals
The benefits of working with animals are well documented, from dogs and cats to birds and even horses. In this edition of Pet Pointers, Lisa Chelenza looks at one organization that uses horse to help people with disabilities.
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On a chilly fall day at the 77-acre working horse farm Arise calls home, the staff prepares horses for the afternoon’s riders. Throughout the year, rain or shine, Arise at the Farm offers adaptive and therapeutic horseback riding to people of all ages with disabilities. While many participants just want to ride and have fun, they are actually seeing therapeutic benefits to the guided activity.
“A horse can help increase their muscle strength, where it will help them sit up. So that's an improvement that we see. They can hold their head up for longer, they can sit up longer, and the kids with the high tone, their muscles are tight, so riding, of course, makes them looser and they can relax,” said Nikki Cook, occupational therapist.
In addition to the physical benefits of working with the horses regularly, there are also signs of a deeper connection in part due to careful matching by the staff.
“There are so many different levels that kids get from this. They have the physical aspect, there's the social piece, because they are interacting with the side-walkers and the horse itself, and then there is that emotional connection to the horse,” said Cook.
Arise at the Farm also has many other programs for individuals as well as groups of any ability including Farm Camp, Horsemanship camp and cart driving lessons.
To learn more about Arise, go to www.ariseatthefarm.org.