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.
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.
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
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.