July 23, 2019 | 67° F

Equine therapy useful for children and adults

Throughout my time at Rutgers, I have learned so much about horses and how they are more than just farm animals. Many people, including myself, know or care for someone deemed “disable.” This term is so broad and can include a multitude of situations, such as autism, learning disabilities, physical disabilities (cerebral palsy) or disability from traumatic events. Today, there are many different forms of therapy used to help these individuals. One that was particularly interesting to me was equine assisted therapy. To further explore this interest, Dr. Julie Fagan, an associate professor of animal science at Rutgers University, and I, along with another group member, are researching the benefits of equine assisted therapy in children and young adults suffering from disabilities.

My partner and I created a survey to find out more information from the parents and guardians on one particular therapy farm, Celtic Charms, in Howell, New Jersey. The survey was handed out during the lessons, and from the results we have received, many of the parents and guardians not only see the benefits in their children’s communication, cognitive and physical abilities and behavior, but are also advocates for the program. I personally went to the Health and Recreation through Horses’ Horse Show hosted by the Special Olympics earlier this month. This show was only for riders with special needs. It was amazing to see how confident and happy these children and young adults were when they were working with their horses. Our research will be published in the near future, and if there are any questions or interests, please feel free to contact me.

Dana Magee is a School of Environmental and Biological sciences senior majoring in animal science with a focus on equine science.

Dana Magee

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