Every year, MGH Arena offers students from AIDB the opportunity to try out for an after-school riding team called Riders Club. There are a limited number of slots available and typically 50-60 students try out. The students who make the team learn horsemanship, riding skills, stable maintenance, horse care, and teamwork. The team also takes part in several shows throughout the year where team members compete against each other as well as other therapy programs. During the shows, the students must demonstrate their riding skills, equitation, and sportsmanship-like attitude.
The American Hippotherapy Association, Inc., defines hippotherapy as a physical, occupational, or speech therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement. The word "hippotherapy" derives from the Greek word hippos, meaning horse. The term "hippotherapy" refers to the use of the movement of the horse as a treatment strategy by physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech/language pathologists to address impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities in patients with neuromotor and sensory dysfunction. This treatment strategy is used as part of an integrated treatment program to achieve functional goals.
Therapeutic riding uses equine-oriented activities for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well-being of people with disabilities. Therapeutic riding provides benefits in the areas of therapy, education, sport, recreation, and leisure.
Equine-facilitated learning, also known as EFL, is an experiential approach to teaching and learning, with the help of horses for the purpose of promoting human growth and development. In equine-facilitated experiential learning, participants interact with the environment, with one another, with their instructors, and with the animals. Goals of the interaction may include increased knowledge on a wide range of topics and/or self-discovery by participants. Instructors may be credentialed teachers, licensed therapists, equine specialists, horse trainers, veterinarians, PATH Intl.-credentialed Therapeutic Riding Instructors, or other individuals who have training in the processes and procedures of EFL. Effective EFL instructors adhere to PATH Intl. standards and EFMHA guidelines so that the learning occurs with strict attention to the physical, mental, psychological and spiritual safety of all humans and horses involved. Through our Equine Facilitated Mental Health program we are able to provide students the opportunity to receive counseling services that involve an equine partner and provide a safe place for children to learn team building, processing, problem solving, and various other educational skills.
Work Experience Program
MGH hosts a Student Worker Program designed to provide students from all campuses of AIDB with real-life work experience. As they would with real jobs, the students interested in working fill out an official application and are responsible for signing in and out each day to keep an accurate record of their hours earned. The focus of the program is not to teach riding, but to promote an independent work ethic, responsibility, and accountability. Student workers learn to take direction and adapt to different jobs every day as well as how to work with peers and volunteers.
Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) is experiential psychotherapy that includes equines. EFP is facilitated by a licensed, credentialed mental health professional working with an appropriately credentialed equine professional. Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy may be used for people with psycho-social issues and mental health needs that result in any significant variation in cognition, mood, judgment, insight, anxiety level, perception, social skills, communication, behavior, or learning.
Disclaimer: Equine assisted activities and therapies provide many benefits. However, they may not be appropriate for all persons. The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship Intl. has prepared the following document describing precautions and contraindications related to equine activities.