For over a decade, RED Arena, located in Dripping Springs, has offered equine therapy services in the central Texas area. Owner, Jennifer Young’s passion for equine therapy began after seeing how effective being on a horse was for helping with balance, core strength, and stretching for children with cerebral palsy.
Many of our kids with autism have amazing breakthroughs with communication while riding the horse,” she says. “They will say their first word or constantly use their communication device to tell their horse to ‘go’ or ask for ‘more horse.’”
Equine therapy is beneficial for people who suffer from ADD, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. When people display aggression around horses, the animal may be stubborn and aggressive. Horses have the ability to detect humans’ emotions and mirror them. If they are nervous or anxious, the horse may become obstinate or skittish. But If the person can display a calm and collected attitude, the horse will react in a kind and relaxed manor.
After time and therapist’s guidance, patients are able to recognize where their perceptions are accurate or misguided, and how they may be projecting their own issues onto others.
Eventually patients are able to learn patience, attention, compassion, confidence, and responsibility that leads to a greater understanding and acceptance of both themselves and others.
The nonprofit is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of both children and adults with disabilities through a unique combination of equines and related therapies, including equine-assisted physical, occupational, and speech therapies. Its mission is to empower individuals with hardships and disabilities through horses.
RED Arena also provides sanctuary and rehabilitation for abused and neglected horses in order to serve people with disabilities.
“I want to set up every child to be as successful as possible and help this child reach their fullest potential,” Young says. “Not just their physical development but cognitive, social, and emotional— And the horse gives us all that!”