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Children's Hospital Colorado researching therapeutic effects horses can have on autism

Children's Hospital Colorado research study will look at the effects of therapeutic horseback riding on children with an autism spectrum disorder
Rebel is the perfect name for the horse 11-year-old Abby Richardson is riding for a research study on horseback riding and autism.
The Denver girl has been called rebellious, a misunderstanding of her autism diagnosis, according to her mother Jodi Lovejoy, who has a doctorate in behavioral health. She sometimes lacks the ability to readily show empathy in social circumstances and is seen as being resistant, she said Saturday during a riding lesson for the study.
"Abby is much more calm when she's around animals," Lovejoy said. "She's less anxious. She's less argumentative."
Lovejoy signed Abby into a 10-week study conducted by Children's Hospital Colorado at the Hearts & Horses Therapeutic Riding Center, 163 N. County Road 29, on the potential benefits of therapeutic horseback riding on children ages 6 to 16 with an autism spectrum disorder.
The therapy, which uses horses to help at-risk youths and people with disabilities improve their physical, social, cognitive and emotional well-being, is a popular but not well-researched type of treatment.
"We're super excited this kind of research is being doing in therapeutic riding because it hasn't been done before," said Jan Pollema, executive director of Hearts & Horses. "It's going to give real data to support the benefit of therapeutic riding for this population of kids."


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