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Healing horses: horse therapy helps people live in the moment

Healing horses: horse therapy helps people live in the momentHaving spent the last 15 years around horses and people who care for them, it is easy to see the high therapeutic value horses have. In fact, a local junior high school principal recently said, “There is nothing I do that is more healing than riding my horse." Hearing that made me wonder, if horses can be healing to people without disabilities, is there a therapeutic place for them with those who have disabilities?

Vickie Armstrong, executive director of Courage Reins, a therapeutic horse facility in Highland, certainly believes they do. “Horses are very helpful in teaching individuals personal development," she said. "It helps them learn more about who they are and how to become the leader. People who work with horses have to become different for the horse to be successful.”

One example she gave was a young girl diagnosed in the Autism spectrum. “After working with horses, she began to learn their body language," Armstrong said. "She was able to transfer what she learned from horses to people with whom she interacted. It helped her to understand when she needed to tone down her interactions so people were more welcoming to her.”

Staff at the Courage Reins Therapeutic Riding Center recognize the value in providing horse therapy to individuals with a variety of disabilities including developmental, physical, mental and emotional. Armstrong believes that by introducing horse therapy to teens who may be contemplating suicide she and others can help them understand their problems will go away with time. "Horse therapy helps people live in the moment and give their brain a break from what is troubling them," she said.

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