ride for success color logo

The Incredible Benefits of Horseback Riding for Autism

Today, we are going to explore the remarkable benefits of horses and horseback riding for individuals with autism.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that affects communication, behavior, and social interaction.

Many families and therapists are discovering the transformative impact of an unconventional approach: horseback riding and equine assisted therapy. Equine-assisted therapy or hippotherapy, has been recognized as a beneficial intervention for individuals with autism.

Here’s why:

Improved Communication Skills

Interacting with horses provides an avenue for individuals with autism to express themselves. Horses are patient and responsive to some verbal cues but many non-verbal, which encourages communication. The need to guide the horse fosters verbal and non-verbal communication skills.


Enhanced Social Interaction

Some individuals with autism may struggle with social skills. Working with horses, trainers, and other riders in a structured environment can help improve these skills. It fosters a sense of cooperation, understanding, and empathy, essential for social interaction.


Better Sensory Processing

Horseback riding offers a unique sensory experience. The horse’s rhythmic movement can help regulate the rider’s sensory response, helping to reduce hypersensitivity to touch and sound, common in individuals with autism.


Increased Self-Confidence

Mastering riding skills can significantly boost self-esteem and confidence. It empowers individuals with autism, promoting a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.


Therapeutic Physical Activity

Horseback riding is a great form of physical exercise that improves balance, coordination, and core strength. The rider’s efforts to stabilize themselves on the horse can enhance motor skills and overall physical health, which is beneficial for individuals with autism who may struggle with motor skills.


Emotional Bonding

The bond formed between a horse and rider is profound. This emotional connection can be therapeutic for individuals with autism, providing comfort, reducing anxiety, and promoting a sense of calm.


The benefits of horseback riding and hippotherapy for individuals with autism extend beyond the riding arena. The skills, confidence, and emotional growth developed through this therapy can profoundly impact their daily lives, enhancing their ability to communicate, interact, and navigate the world around them.

As a trainer/Instructor that has worked with horses and individuals with Autism and sensory disorders I can personally attest to the profound impact these students have had on my riding and training as well.  It was both challenging and humbling to find ways for my instruction to become clearer for both the individual and equine.  One of my very first clients out of college was a young woman of similar age to me that was a high functioning Autistc with a sensory disorder (this was her personal description of herself).  She explained to me that she didn’t like to touch or be touched softly.  It would feel as she described it, like someone was reaching into a vast hole inside her.

Therefore, she often touched her horse in a more aggressive manner than she meant to.  I found it fascinating to teach her how to be “soft or gentle” without being “soft”.  Think of it like the difference between touching something likes it is glass vs positive tension vs negative tension.  We had to keep navigating between those parameters and she did an amazing job!  She taught me while I was teaching her, and this taught me infinitely about horses.  For example, the idea of pushing the air between you and your horse but not touching your horse!  Through your intention and action, you can achieve a reaction.  It’s amazing!

Share :



Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Stay up-to-date on our latest news and challenges!

Schedule Appointment

Fill out the form below, and we will be in touch shortly.