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Equine assisted activities can improve cognitive ability, body strength, and endurance.  It may also increase broader abilities such as an adult or child's social skills, confidence, and overall sense of well-being.  Equine therapy for special needs can help children and adults with a wide variety of disabilities.  This type of therapy makes use of riding horses as an effective way of providing physical and emotional therapy as well as psychological benefits to patients especially children and adolescents suffering from autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, visual and hearing impairment, anxiety disorder, learning disorder, substance abuse, multiple sclerosis, development disorder, muscular dystrophy, amputation, brain injury as well as behavioral problems. 

Equine assisted activities can help improve motor coordination, posture, balance, muscle tone, concentration, self-esteem and self-confidence in riders with special needs.  Equine therapy for special needs usually makes use of the rocking motion and gait of the horse to simulate the natural sway of the pelvis during walking.  Horse riding serves as a training activity for the body of the individual to move in the right way.  The horse gait and rocking motion also helps in developing muscle tone and coordination to effectively help the patient in standing and walking.

Children who find it hard to speak are taught to use their own words to command the horse on what to do.  They learn to use the right words to call the horse including using the horses name, which eventually improves their confidence as well as develop their speech.  The correct interaction of the child with the horse also serves as an essential tool for improving the social skills of the child with respect to other people.  A rider must take direction from the instructor to safely maneuver and master the riding tasks at hand.  They must also use a basis of trust with the animal, instructor, and themselves to safely accomplish each individual goal.  The use of horses is considered non-judgmental, as it provides no prejudices to the healing process.

Horses helping Military

Horses can have a significant benefit for veterans-
1.  Your in the moment- When you are up in the saddle, the world beyond seems to melt away.  You must focus your energy and be intentional with your commands and body language.

2.  Its Peaceful- Many veterans struggling with PTSD experience anxiety from loud, sudden noises.  Others simply need an escape from daily living in the city, or the hustle and bustle of military base.  An occasional whinny or the wind rushing by as you trot help clear the mind and give a sense of peace.

3.  Its something new and different- Many veterans have never been on horseback.  They might be experts in their military specialty or have previously lead complicated operations, but the chance to learn something new and instantly rewarding can break through the doldrums of daily life.  With the right instructor and an open mind, a new rider can quickly pick up the techniques and skills to become a successful horseman.

4.  Its Physical- From saddling the horse, to mounting, to riding, and later grooming, the actions required in horseback riding encompass the entire body.  Although it looks simple enough, riding for an extended period of time is deceptively physical, and taking care of the horses and barn work is very physical!

5.  Its a new Partner- Anyone who has been in the military for an extended period of time understands how important a partner or BUDDY is, both in training and on the front lines.  Knowing there is someone looking out for you and working towards the same goal is a highly valued commodity in the military life, and when veterans return from service, they may find that aspect is lacking in civilian life.  Working with a horse can restore this!

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