Therapeutic Horseback Riding in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Baimbridge, Erica Weidler 1981-
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Animals have long served humans in a working capacity but they have also served as companions and thus, many humans have a bond with animals. Several studies have demonstrated the health benefits of animals on certain ailments and health conditions. While there have been some studies showing the effectiveness of therapeutic riding and hippotherapy on children with disabilities, there has only been one study to date that has evaluated the effects of therapeutic horseback riding (TR) on children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), yielding tentative positive results in social motivation, sensory seeking/sensitivity, and less distractibility and inattention. The current study sought to expand and partially replicate the previous study to determine possible further effects of therapeutic horseback riding in children with ASD related to social reciprocity, anxiety, repetitive behaviors, and quality of life. Significant main effects were found for TR on social responsiveness and repetitive behaviors, but not for anxiety or quality of life. Implications and limitations of the current study are discussed.