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Spot on Science: Therapeutic Horsemanship at Camp Cheerful

Camp Cheerful, located in Strongsville, Ohio, opened as Ohio’s first camp with recreation programs for children with disabilities in 1947. Today, children and adults with physical, developmental, and sensory disabilities can take part in and benefit from various activities and programs. One program they have is therapeutic horsemanship.

Therapeutic Horsemanship is a form of therapy that involves activities with horses to help with a person’s physical and mental health. When used as physical therapy like with adaptive riding, the motion of a horse can be therapeutic since they mimic the normal movement of a human walking. This can improve flexibility, balance, and muscle strength. Thanks to this program, anyone with a wide range of abilities can ride a horse.

Horses are also great mirrors of human emotion, meaning they can recognize different emotions and adapt to them. This can teach people with disabilities to recognize and manage their emotions in a way that a psychologist or medicine alone may not be able to.

Socialization is a big part of therapeutic horsemanship too because there’s always a team of staff and volunteers involved with helping each person and each horse, allowing people to get the help they need and interact with others in a fun setting.

Discussion Question:

1. Was there a time in your life when an animal helped you feel better?

Alexandra Samame is an intern with the education team at Ideastream Public Media.