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Horse Therapy for People with Limitations

Stamas 1 / -  
Apr 5, 2015   #1
Many people may already have methods of helping others with certain limitations. Society has been implementing the same plan and routine for years. People with autism may never have a chance of progressing or have a hope of living a different lifestyle. Losing a limb, being diagnosed with a brain disease, or anyone with a disability may find themselves stuck in a rut and in return they turn into a patient with depression problems. Living your day to day feeling hopeless and helpless. Wondering if this state of mind has a light at the end of the tunnel. What if there was a new age treatment plan that would guarantee certain results you were never guaranteed in the past. Would you try it? Horse therapy may be used as an alternate method for treating multiple diagnosis. The effectiveness horse therapy has on people with autism/Asperger's syndrome, disabilities, and/or depression is surprising.

I had initiated a questionnaire to two personal friends of mine. One being a rancher and the other a teacher for the mentally challenged. Both of whom have experience with horse therapy. The questionnaire consisted of questions relating to the pros and cons on the use of horse therapy. The results I received were alarmingly very similar. My aunt, the teacher, keeps her students primarily for the whole time they are in elementary school. So she sees first-hand the changes and progressions from each student over time. She has a few students who have engaged in horse therapy and she has seen positive results from it. These specific students seem to have a gained a little bit more of a sense of self and for others they are able to focus a little longer on an object.

My friend Lisa who also did the questionnaire, gave similar responses but not from a teachers perspective. She owns a ranch with horses on it. She allows a few families whose children are going through hardships to stop by and ride her horses. Granted she does not witness the life within their households, the benefits of the experience is expressed by the parents. The children who have engaged in this treatment tend to have their spirits lifted. They are able to gain a voice in the world and see things from a positive point of view. With these two outcomes I would say, so far, this new age treatment plan has potential.

There are many forms of modern day treatments being used today. Many people enter into boot camps to help them with their disability by setting goals to be reached at certain intervals. Boot camp programs are not intended to go on indefinitely and they can be used on troubled teens with behavioral problems. Another plan would be the twelve step program used to wean people off their addiction. This programs tends to be used for alcoholics. Society often uses intervention specialists for people who cannot take the leap to change on their own. Interventionists may step into a situation involving drug addiction, eating disorders, people with obsessive compulsive disorder, hoarders, etc.

Society has become accustomed to, and are the most used, are drug therapies. Medications are being used for any and all types of illnesses or just when there is something wrong. Instead of trying to figure out how to naturally fix a problem or situation, physicians are pushing the problem solving in pill form. Don't get me wrong, medications are useful for many cases such as mental disorders. But sometimes a pharmaceutical drug isn't always the answer. Society is trying to come up with an alternative non-invasive method of treatment, such as utilizing horses.

When you think of horses what initially comes to mind is the wild wild west, cowboys and Indians, farmers, horse and buggy, etc. Many years ago when we didn't have automobiles, horses were the only way of transportation. Horses were used to get to and from town, delivery of goods, and they were used during fights of battle. Another main use for horses was on the farm to help harvest the crops. Their daily tasks ranged from pulling the plows to hauling hay and all of the equipment that was needed to farm.

Horses also played a major role in the Native American culture/community. Horses were not only used for transportation but also for spiritual guidance. "Horses were a symbol of mobility, stamina, and power. In some tribes the horses were a sign of loyalty, love, and devotion. The imprint of horse hooves gave the Native American's a sense of direction." (warpaths2peacepipes).

Horse use today has evolved into a prosperous marketable trade. For instance, the use of horses in the entertainment industry. They have many roles in movies, especially when depicting the era before vehicles. They appear in commercials, for example, the Budweiser beer company. They are used for exploitation, transportation, and beauty in the many parades. Another way to earn money off horses is at a petting zoos. People can pay to get their picture taken with or on the horse.

Another use of horses for profit include sporting events and private functions. Horses are being used for sport across the world. Americans use horses for sport during rodeos. People bet money at race tracks for the fastest horse. These horse owners have the potential in earning millions of dollars. Another sport they play a major role in is polo. These are just a few activities they partake in, as you have read they have many uses.

Last but not least, they are still being used for transportation, but they are not considered the primary way of transportation anymore. Police in certain areas, like in Tempe, Arizona, still use horses when they are on patrol. Modern day ranchers use horses to get around their land and round up their livestock. You can see many horse enthusiasts riding around for leisure. There are many horse trails throughout the valley that can be utilized within city limits. The use of horses has evolved majorly over time.

Horses have even evolved in to being utilized for therapeutic purposes. Given their enormous amount of strength, they can handle a lot of stresses thrown at them. They are initially wild animals. They can survive life on their own. Even though they are very strong creatures, their mental capacity and intelligence allows them to be loyal and compassionate in nature. They show a sensitive side to their owners. They are not typically harmful in nature. Wild stallions have the power to harm someone but their instincts are not to kill. With this being said, horses have a unique kind of intuition. They can feel the emotions of the people around them. They can sense when someone is upset or distraught and they handle it with care. They can sense when danger is near and some even alert their owners. Because of their qualities, they are a great animal to use for certain therapies.

Horse therapies may be used to treat people of any age who have been diagnosed with autism or Asperger's syndrome. This type of therapy may provide people with this disorder a sense of belonging. The sense of belonging may improve their other symptoms or even halt them from worsening. This not only helps the patient but also their families because this type of lifestyle limits people from carrying on what we would call a normal lifestyle. When participating in this type of therapy it helps give the person a job or role of responsibility. In return, this will help boost their self-esteem and make them feel like they have a purpose. Another pro this may have is providing a loving secure environment. A lot of children with this disorder may not come from a nurturing environment.

Throw away thoughts like, "If you would just-" and "Why can't you-?" You didn't fulfill every expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn't like being constantly reminded of it. I didn't choose to have autism. Remember that it's happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of growing up to be successful and independent are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. (Notbohm)

Another reason why people engage in horse therapy is to help with their disabilities. These include physical and mental disabilities, such as multiple sclerosis, ADHD, or some type of brain injury. Having this type of disability may allow the people to feel like outcasts. Being immersed into a center that focuses on people with limitations may give that a person a feeling of belonging. They are finally in a group where they fit in and not an outcast anymore. With all of these qualities the patients can start gaining a sense of self. Doing tasks with horses will teach responsibility, something they may not get in their home life. And for some, this may be the only form of love they receive at all.

The final reason I'm touching base on is depression. People with depression can completely benefit from horse therapy because it could lift their outlook of life. A mind that is encompassed by depression may feel completely alone even when they're physically not. Therapy that helps them think outside of their head may give them a glimpse of belonging other than feeling trapped all of the time. Being in a nurturing safe community allows there to be no judgment or ridicule. This also provides love to the patient's life as previously mentioned.

Horse therapy has influenced the outcomes of autism/Asperger's syndrome, disabilities, and depression in positive ways. People with autism/Asperger's syndrome have shown signs of improvement when creating an emotional bond and an attachment with another living being. Creating this bond allows them to build on trust skills as well. Cognitive and language skills have improved. Also building on their coordination abilities may allow them to participate in a type of sport or outdoor activity not normally sought after.

With so many different autism treatments available, and it can be tough to figure out which approach is right for your child. Making things more complicated, you may hear different or even conflicting recommendations from parents and doctors. When putting together an autism treatment plan for your child, keep in mind that there is no single treatment that will work for everyone. Each person on the autism spectrum is unique, with different strengths and weaknesses.

Your child's treatment should be tailored according to his or her individual needs. You know your child best, so it's up to you to make sure those needs are being met. (Smith, Segal, Hutman)

Improvements are also apparent when horse therapy is used on people with physical and mental disabilities. "Equine therapy offers a safe, secure environment where a therapist or other staff person will be close at hand as new skills are learned" (equine therapy programs). Non-verbal persons are forced to use words to give direction to the horses and in return this helps them overcome their fears and improves speech development and confidence. The lifting and riding that comes along with horses will improve muscle and coordination. Having a sense of belonging builds a person's self-confidence and self-esteem. When improving on coordination with the actual riding of horses it also improves concentration. Being that everyone could use improvement with concentration, people with brain injuries especially could benefit from it. This may or may not improve the injury itself, but it could stop it from worsening.

Horse therapy is also a non-threatening approach to people suffering from depression. Psychotherapy techniques along with horse therapy techniques allows people to open up with their feelings. Mirroring an action that might have taken place during a major event in their life allows them to process it and hopefully open up about it. For example, grooming may remind them of a time when someone used to brush their hair and traumatic experiences occurring at the same time. Being able to process and open up about the actual events that have taken place in one's life will possibly open up a pathway to improvement.

The effectiveness horse therapy has had on people with limitations has not only given hope for the chance of a better life but has contributed to alternative therapeutic methods. Today, utilizing animals, especially horses, has long lasting effects in treating physical and mental disabilities. Horse therapy may not be a cure to everything, but it should be an alternative method of therapy to never rule out.
lcturn87 - / 435 236  
Apr 7, 2015   #2
You have very good writing. Please read your paper again so you can see how the changes help.

1) 1st paragraph-You can delete "your" when you say they live day to day feeling hopeless and helpless. Also, make sure you to check if you have a question mark if you are using "What" and asking a question.

2) Strong second paragraph!
3) In the third paragraph, I had to read it a few times. I would take out half of the sentence that begins with the word "Granted". The next sentence would be, "The children who have engaged in this treatment tend to have their spirits lifted". Then use this sentence as the second to last sentence in the paragraph "The benefits of these experiences are also expressed by the parents." This change was made because you used the word benefits. Also, read the paragraph again and see how this change helps the paragraph.

4) This is just a suggestion. I think that you should not begin discussing modern day treatments because you begin discussing horse riding as a natural therapy for those with disabilities. Although you could say there are many modern day treatment used today. Then discuss that society is using horses as this alternative form of treatment as a new paragraph. I think you can continue this with discussing how horses have evolved for therapeutic purposes. However, it is my suggestion to take out the history of horses. It is taking the whole paper into a discussion about horses and is not helping the reader to understand that the focus of your paper is about the therapy too.

5) Use a comma after therapy. Instead of "Another pro", I think using the word purpose again would be perfectly fine.
6) "give that a person a sense of belonging" you can delete the "a" in front of person.
7) I would use, Horse therapy can help those with depression. If you describe it this way, you make it sound like you are making every effort to talk about the various ways horse therapy can help all people. Another change I would make is when you describe lifting an outlook. You can uplift someone spirits and change their outlook on life. It's just a very small error in meaning.

8) You talk about autism treatments that are available and say "and it can be tough" take out the word "and". The last sentence should be included in the paragraph when you cited your source.

9) There is a sentence that I keep reading. Did you mean: Riding horses actually improves coordination and concentration.
10) *I'm unsure if you are dividing the essay by why people engage in horse therapy and then stating their improvements by using horse therapy. I'm going to let you decide if you are happy with this. I was going to suggest staying on one condition and horse therapy and then discussing the next condition and horse therapy. However, I'm going to let you decide if you are happy with this.

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