Alon, a 13 year old youth dealing with severe ADHD, and a rider since the age of 8 says: “When my mother told me that she wants to take me horseback riding, I said no. I was tired already with all of the infinite therapies and her attempts to pry me away from the computer. I have fun on the computer…
But when I arrived for the first time, I saw that this therapy would be different. I fell in love with “Silver”, my horse. I felt that the instructor trusted me with him from the very first day. No more “Don’t do this” and “don’t touch”. I felt free … and also valued. Today I ride much more. I argue with my mother, who thinks I ride too much… and I also volunteer at the ranch. It is the best part of my day!”
ADHD is an impairment which many link primarily to its academic aspects. However, this is a multisystem impairment which derives from structural changes to the prefrontal lobe of the brain. This impairment harms the attentiveness and concentration of the impaired, as well as his social life and behavior. For the most part, those who suffer from learning or attentiveness impairments also deal with motoric difficulties, difficulties in organization and hyperactivity – some of them quite significant.
Dealing with the various learning and social tasks required from the child in the various educational frameworks often leaves him hurt, and suffering from a severe feeling of helplessness and lack of competence. He finds it difficult to calibrate his emptions and his behavior, and sometimes acts in ways that are not suitable to the situation or else reads the situation wrongly. On the academic level they often feel like a failure, not because of inferior intellectual ability, but because of the gap between their cognitive abilities and their ability to implement them. The various treatments offered to these children sometimes make matters worth, for their focus is on “fixing” this or that learning difficulty. Therapeutic horseback riding is a great way to give the child the feeling that he is capable. He can deal with this huge animal, who accepts the child as he is, without any judgement. The child can form a good bond with the instructor and therapist, can achieve success, can achieve control and calm and can organize himself and his environment. It is important to note that all of the above is a process, not a one-time event. Forming a bond is a process and so id familiarization with the initial pre and post therapy stages in which the patient organizes himself according to structured and well defined steps (preparing the riding equipment and returning it to its proper place after the ceremony).
The therapeutic ranch itself enables the completion of the therapy with its wide open spaces, clean air and good people who are there to help. Children who connect to horses and to ranch activities find a great deal of peace in this environment, which accompanies them onwards, in their day to day lives.
The health medical organizations and the insurance companies acknowledge the power of this incredible tool to promote change. Accordingly, they provide subsidies to the various programs involving a series of horseback riding therapies in the ranch.