Horse Boy Method Intro Workshop
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Horse Boy Method Intro Workshop

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Over approximately seven years of working with autistic children and horses Rupert Isaacson, father of Rowan Isaacson (the Horse Boy) stumbled upon a number of techniques that seemed to bring about ...

Over approximately seven years of working with autistic children and horses Rupert Isaacson, father of Rowan Isaacson (the Horse Boy) stumbled upon a number of techniques that seemed to bring about better verbal communication with his son.

For some years Rupert and Rowan literally lived in the saddle together on board a Texas Quarter Horse called Betsy. The story of how Rowan opened up to the outside world through Betsy is told in the bestselling book and award winning film, both entitled "The Horse Boy".

Soon after Rowan's success Rupert began working with other local children on the spectrum to see if what had worked with Rowan and Betsy would also work for them.

While no method can ever be right for 100% of people Rupert did find that a sufficiently high percentage of children did seem to benefit in sometimes quite astonishing ways.

After a couple more years Rupert realized that he had a system of techniques in place, that targeted different types of autism spectrum challenges. Since 2009 he has been working internationally with the Horse Boy Method™ at camps and centers in North America and Europe.

Horse Boy Method is specific to Autism and neuro-psychiatric conditions.

www.horseboyworld.com

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  • Thank everybody for comingBefore we begin. I want everybody to take a moment to give yourself pet on bed for showing up and for bing the kind of person that is interested in horses and helping children with autism.
  • Evolved by trial and errorNot through a set of theories or ideasIn 2004 Rupert Isaacson’s son Rowan was diagnosed with AutismRupert was a horse guy, lived in the countryNoticed that his son tantrumed less and did better generally when outside in the woods=> spend lot of time on trails behind his houseHe had given up riding because he thought Rowan wasn’t save around horsesWhat happened was one day Rowan saw the horses went through the fence ontoy his neighbor’s property before Rupert could stop him, threw himself on his back among the hooves; Rupert thought he was going to get trampled, was creeping up to grab him and pull him back through the fence, when he saw something extraorinary: the boss mare Betsy very gently pushed the other horses away bend her nose to Rowan and started to lick and chew, with a half closed eye. Rupert, a horse trainer, recognized the behavior as one of submission and acceptance. Clearly there was a direct line between them and he throught this is terrible. “Rowan’s got the horse gene but I wont be able to share it with him because of his autism” Luckily he was wrong. Rowan kept going back to Betsy. Rupert started putting Rowan onto Besty and he stopped stimming (expain stimming). Eventually he asked Betsy’s owner Stafford if he could start riding with him. Stafford said sure, gave him the tack room key. The saddle available was an oversized (20”) western saddle with lots of room for adult and child. They go up together and Rupert who always talked to Rowan as if he was verbal asked: “Where should we go? The woods or the pond?” Rowan was echolalic. (explain echolalia). Rowan said “To the pond”. Rupert thought it’s echolalia but it’s a start. They ride down to the pond – a big herron get’s up and flys away. Rowan says: “Herron”. Rupert didn’t know he knew that word he realized then that he was giving expressive speech.The more they cantered the more expressive speech he gotThey start to live in the saddle 5-6h a day. He learns everything up there. Academics, reading etc. Suddenly the autism instead of shutting his world down open adventures. Rupert eventually rides through Mongolia from healer to healer.Explain Rupert’s background: other career is journalism and human rights. His family is african on both sides. Not all his family is white. His non-white family is related to the Bushmen in the Kalahari. Rupert used to live with them and runs an organization that helps them get their ancestral rights back. In 2004 when meeting Betsy and Rowan was diagnosed, Rupert had to bring a delegation of Bushmen to the United Nation. Some of the guys on the delagation were trained healers in their culture. They met Rowan, did some ceremonies for him and for a short time Rowan lost some of his obsessive behaviors, so Rupert thought: “Ok, he has had a great reaction to the horse, great reaction to these shamanic healers. Is there a place that combines these 2 things? Not Africa, that’s not a horse culture. It’s Mongolia where the horse first go domesticated and the word shaman comes from (He who knows). Gut feeling.They do the trip, takes a months. That’s the film and the book. Come back with kid that is still autistic but he has lost the 3 key dysfunctions that came with his autism which were incontinence, massive tantruming (because of sensory issues) and inability to make friends. Rupert then starts the Horse Boy Foundation opens the New Trails Center in Elgin, TX, starts to run camps and finds that other kids get the same results. So here we are. Now it’s grown into something called Horse Boy World. Rowan is making his first TV series it’s called “Endangerous” safaries after animals that are both dangerous and endangered. But he is still autistic but very high funtional and productive rather like Temple Grandin. This is what Horse Boy World is aboutWe are not here to cure autism because there is nothing wrong with being autistic. There are many very successful autistic people out there e.g. Temple Grandin, Einstein, Thomas Edison, Daniel Tannet (Mathematician who wrote Born on a Blue Day”, speculations that Bill Gates is.We do want to address the dysfunctions that can go along with autism like inability to communicate, sensory issues, tantuming. Horse Boy Method addresses these dysfunctions while at the same time celebrating the gifts of autism.Autism is not a problem to be fixed. So what is Horse Boy Method?
  • Simple 6-stage process that gets direct communication going, addresses the dysfunctions, enhances the gifts and enhances healing for stressed out families as well as the individual. We are not teaching kids how to rideWe are not teaching horsemenshipSome kids emerge as riders and we encourage thatBut we and our horses are here to serve the kids and families. It is up to us to become as good horsemen as we can be to be properly of serviceThe 6 stages areEnvironment (where you can say yes all the time!) and is sensorial pleasant for the childSensory issues – addressed through environment and working body to body bareback with the static horse for kids and families to de-stressBack-riding where we ride with the child so that we can use the rocking motion of the horse to open up the learning receptors of the brain and produce the feel good hormone oxytocin. We are also a voice in the childs ear, not a challenging frontal gaze that the child wants to protect itself from. We provide deep pressure because we hold the child around the body. (many autistic kids really like that) and we can work at walk, trot and canter. We don’t know why but working at the canter gets more communication than any other approach or therapy we have seen. If there is one thing that defines autism, it’s the difficulty of relating to the exterior world (auto – self) (autism locked in the self); the horse takes you into the exterior world. Perspective taking and Rule based games: Once the kid is comfortable with backriding we move into perspectivetaking and rule based games. Neurotypical kids reach certain psychological milestones pretty much automatically. Kids on the spectrum do not. The horse can carry you in and out of someone elses perspective and can play rule based games effortlessly for you, while the child sits up and learns by osmosis and repetition without fear of failure. We go into the detailed exercises later. Academics: you can use the rhythms of the horse to teach math, science, reading etc. from the most basic levels to really quite advanced concepts. The key is fun, repetition and never testing the child to see what they learned. Rather like with horse training, they will start to offer answers to you after a while.Self-advocacy: the most important psychological survival tool. To make a case for yourself – to speak for yourself. Once the kids are at this stage they are usually to big for backriding and we move to long lining on really well trained horses that work in collection and for this we usually use the dressage arena and talk about the interests of the child or young adult and get them to talk about what intersts the. Self-compassion: Through this all you have to practice self-compassion. Working with autism can be frustrating, working with horses can be frustrating. We have to forgive ourselves in advance for the inevitable mistakes we will make and see it as part of a general learning curve. What’s in it for us as horse people? Because we train our horses in collection and tricks, we end up with much much better trained horses that even know a lot of high school dressage, so it feeds our souls as horse people and makes our and the horses learning curves quicker as if we were learning for sport because there is no imaginary judge so there is no tension in our mind or body as we learn and therefore our learning is faster. The key here is that we are motivated by service and that opens the door to everything.
  • Let’s go back to self-compassionWorking with Autism is difficultWorking with horses can be difficult => Need to take time out to be kind to yourself in order to be effectiveWe start with a basic Self-Compassion ExerciseWhy do we do this?Need to understand bio chemistry in brain and body because both autistic people and horses suffer from high stress (cortisol levels)People on the spectrum and pray animals, such as horses, have highly developed amygdalas. The amygdala is the part of the brain that produces the fight/flight response (cortisol). This is why people on the spectrum, rather like young horses, freak out and meltdown at the slightest provocation. The opposite of cortisol is oxytocin. This is the feel-good hormon. When we rock our bodies in rhythm, we produce it. We also get it through nurturing touch. So riding in collected rhythms and being body to body with a horse and/or a rider produces oxytocin. You can go from a cortisol moment where you want to fight or run away to an oxytocin moment quite quickly. Here is the exercise. (Not invented by Rupert, but by his wife Dr. Kristin Neff, Professor of psychology at UT of Texas and worlds leading authority on self-compassion and mental health. Everybody hold out their hands in front of their body. Now everybody clinch their fist as hard as you can and say something bad to yourself like “stupid” or worse. Tighten up further. That unpleasant feeling in your body is cortisol. Now open your palms. That’s your body releasing tension and cortisol – stress – now cross your hands and put your palms over your heart. That good feeling, that warm feeling, that’s oxytocin. So you can go from a high stress to a bliss experience in the blink of an eye. It’s useful to know this because you will be dealing with many such moments with both horses and kids/families and this is a good tool for retrieving a situation if it starts to go south. Parallel between autistic kids and young horsesBecause both autistic people and young horses suffer from high cortisol activity, many of the techniques used for gentling young horses help when working with autistic people. These include: oblique eye contact, oblique and soft body language, low/soft tone of voice and providing an environment that does not trigger sensory/stress responses. The environment is where it all begins. We’ll come back to this in a moment.
  • Autism has gone from something quite rare (2 kids in 10,000 20 years ago) to a PANDEMIC (at least 1 child in 100)Therapeutic riding stables are experiencing a tsunami of autistic kids Old methods of Therapeutic riding are designed for physical disability and don’t work for autism, because they rely on a normally cognitive brain that can follow logical instructions, so our teaching methods have to be much more oblique4:1 male to female ratio but girls tend to get it more severely. We don’t even know if the current pandemic is true autism or (and the science is pointing this way) whether it is a reaction to higher levels of toxicity in the environment, impacting maternal, fetal, and infant metabolisms and creating autism like symptomsWhat we do know is that the numbers are getting bigger and it is here to stay. Fortunately Horse Boy Method especially when combined with other interventions seems to get very concrete results. Sitenote:A. Is the increase improved diagnosis? Probably not because there has been no corresponding drop in other neuro-psychiatric conditionsB. is it because of vaccinations? The science increasingly suggests that increased toxicity – of which overly clustered vaccinations can be a part – can cause autism symptoms. So with one child it could be vaccinations, with another child it could be plastics or heavy metals breaking down in the environment.C. What do you mean the environment is getting more toxic? Think about it, 20 years ago if you went into a store in India you didn’t get a plastic bag, now you do. 20 years ago noone in China had a cell phone or a car now… so you can eat organic, you can even eat wild but the toxicity is now in the soil and the water and is something we have to deal with. It’s also interesting that there has been a corseponding 1000% rise in auto-immune diseases, and cancers. With the science pointing to increased environmental toxicity as the culprit here as well. It seems to be the condition of the age of which we are living.
  • Autism is much misunderstood. Here are the main misunderstandings:All individuals with autism are alike Autistic people don’t have feelings Autistic people don’t form relationships All autistic people are savants Autistic people have no language skillsAutistic people don’t make good eye contactAutistic people don’t have empathyAutistic people can’t have careersAUTISM IS A PROBLEM TO BE FIXED
  • Autism TruthsAutism is a spectrum of neuro-psychiatric conditions of somebody totally shut down, non verbal, rocking back and forth in a corner to a highly paid software engineer with poor social skills working in Scilicone. People with autism are different from each other. It’s possible to be intellectually bright, completely verbal and have a career and still be autistic. It’s possible to start severly on the spectrum (e.g. Temple Grandin rocking back and forth and smeering her shit on the walls and now bestselling author/professor) and gradually become more and more functional and “normal”Key feature – difficulty relating to the exterior world.Common features – sensory problems, gastrointestinal problems, sleep difficulties, epilepsy, repetitive behaviors etc.Asperger’s Syndrome – high end of the spectrum, characterized by no delay in language development.PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder/delay – not otherwise specified) is the most common, current diagnosis. What does this mean? It’s a scientific way of saying “looks a bit like autism, but we don’t really know”. Most kids who will walk through your door will have a PPD-NOS diagnosis, which means unless they have another related disorder like Mental Retardation or severe seizures they are most likely very intelligent indeed. The trick is to access the intellect by addressing the child’s sensory discomfort first. Horse Boy Method does this.Other Autism conditions includeRhetts syndrome (mostly girls and highly regressive)Angleman’s syndrome (similar but mostly boys)Williams syndrome (boys or girls and kind of like a cross between downs and autism)But these are relatively rare PPD and Aspergers will be your main focus. It’s not just a spectrum, it’s also a continum, meaning children tend to progress or regress considerably over the time of their lives. Most progress greatly of time.
  • There is no single treatment protocol. Autism cannot be ‘cured’. Some scientists believe a highly structured treatment approach is needed, others feel it should be much more play-based. The needs differ with each child.Common Autism TreatmentsABA (applied behavioral analysis - and other highly structured behavioral therapies)Floor Time (and other play-based therapies) Diet (gluten/casein-free diet, protein deficiency and other specialist diets are common approaches) – many autistic kids exhibit gastro-intestinal problemsBiomedical (chelation – detoxifying the child’s body, Valtrex – addressing the herpes virus which is prevalent in most children and has been link to some autism diagnosis, etc.)Treatments that work for one child may not work for another! People’s understanding of Autism is still simplistic – like the simplistic understanding of cancer 20 years ago. We tend to refer to ‘Autism’ rather than the specific spectrum diagnosis and this often limits us.We have to remember to take this individual by individualOn the Horse Boy World website our resident adult autist (Cisco) answers many of these questions. Click on the ask Cisco Button
  • Method 1. EnvironmentEntire environment needs to be set up for Autism (families as well as children). So it’s children first horses second.Remember most kids will spend most of their time NOT on a horse. So they must be able to explore at will.Be able to go barefoot on grass/sand/gravel/woodchipsThese help with sensory issues There must be other animals – dogs, cats, pygmy goats, poultry, rats and other small animals for insideInside spaces with toys, games, some computer games (such as Mario Cart and Mario Party) are very good for cognition (we have a list and blogs on our website www.horseboyworld.com about educational and cognition enhancing games).Outside trampoline, climbing frame, splashpool, walking trailsThis way their kid can go anywhere and you can always say yes! If we want communication from an autistic child, we have to prove that we are worth communicating with. If we are saying NO a lot the child logically thinks we are not worth communicating with. So look around and ask yourself “Do I have to say NO a lot in my environment?”If so (e.g. I keep stallions), ask yourself “How am I creating an Autism environment within this environment?”Natural light as much as possible, and avoid known sensory triggers such asFluorescent strip lights (often used in arenas, barns, kitchens, schools, therapy rooms, supermarkets etc.)Machines that give off continual noise (loud air conditioners and heaters, generators, fans, loud radios blasting pop music, wheat eaters, leave blowers, etc.)And harsh manmade surfaces (like plastic chairs, vinyl flooring)All of these are known triggers for sensory traumaAs much as possible, keep it natural and keep it quiet (or at least not too much amplified or distorted noise) Learning to order the environmentBy showing kids what can be eaten touched etc. from the ground up (i.e. soil, sand, rock to grass, flowers, herbs, to underbrush, to large scrubs, small trees, to canopy trees, kids learn to order their environment in a way they understand ( what I can eat, what I can’t eat) and this eventually carries over to helping them structure none natural environments.Create Edible environmentLearn what can be eaten and what notPlant plants that can be eaten in pots and gardensEncourage kids to eat what’s edible and what to leave aloneTracking/animal environmentShow kids and families your wildlife path, identify animal tracks, wildlife populations, make this part of each session they come out forFarming environmentHave some small areas of cultivation and livestock rearing. Talk to them about surrounding farms and fields.Sensory Trails Do and Don’tsDon’t spend money on creating sensory trails of man made things (plastics, pool noodles, etc.)Instead use natureKids are motivated to touch natural objects so create trails through low hanging foliage, which is what sensory trails are usually emulatingThis is cheaper and more effectivePlus you see wildlifeWildlifeActively encourage wildlifeFor instance if you have straw bales down in clearances that brings rodents which brings foxes, badgers. If you have hedgerows down that brings insects which will bring more bridsPut down deer cornIf possible have a wetland however small that the kids can wade in and splash in and exploreSensory rooms Dos and Don’tsDon’t spend money on sensory rooms filled with manmade synthetic productsRather use natural stuff – woodchips, pinebranch floors, animal skinns, bone antler, rough/polished wood, smooth river stonesKids rather explore that and it makes sense to the because it helps them to order the environment outside the roomUse Music but as much as possible tailor it to the individuals child’s likes or stick to a mix of baroque classical, raggae, folk etc as these tend to stimulate in a good way.Crazy dance sessions with drumming and dance music are also good provided the kids can get away from them any timeFiresFires provide really good tribal human focusHave a fire at the end of each afternoon if possible but have dedicated volunteers to make it safeIndoor arenasUsually very echoy and stressful for kids. Humanize them by throwing down rugs, animal skins, old armchairs etc. and encourage the kids to play as well as ride in them. LightingAt all times try to avoid harsh industrial light (halogen or fluorescent and keep it lower key)Exercise 1: Take an average suburban backyard. How can we make this an optimum autism environment? (INCLUDE PICTURE FOR SLIDE)Exercise 2: Take an average suburban living room. How do we make this an optimum autism environment?Exercise 3: Take an average riding school yard. How do we make this an optimum autism environment?Exercise 4: Take an average indoor/outdoor riding arena. How do we make this an optimum autism environment?Exercise 5: Take an average therapy room/classroom. How do we make this an optimum autism environment?The Human Environment – TribeIt takes a village to raise a child. Humans are genetically programmed to live in small hunting and gathering groups of hunter gatherersSuburban lives create isolation especially so if families have special needsYour horse boy environment needs to become a tribal environmet where families can destress not be judged, relax, learn, exchange information, find community and friendshipFrom childs point of view nothing you do should feel like therapy.We know our structures, but we don’t ram our structures down the childs throatEverything should feel like playEverything should feel like funEverything should feel like exploration / adventureThat way they learn effortlesslyFor the families it should be like coming out to a families farmFor us we should know our structures so well that we can change at any timeThere should be a ton of humor and laughter. Easy and informalFamilies do not drop their kids off for respite. They come out together if possible for the whole afternoon or morningFamilies ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN KID WHEN NOT ON A HORSE so they can explore trails and environment under their own steam When the child shows they are ready to work with a horse that is when you and your team jump in.
  • Enviroment 3: Learning environment:Communicate don’t teachShow by example, have converstaions about concepts, do not test kids on their knowledge. Continually impart the knowledge and the kid will eventually give it back to youInvolve the familyParents, siblings and care-givers know the kdi better than you. They are the consultant you need. INVOLVE THEMOpen ended time framesFamilies can come out for a morning or an afternoon in the course of which they might ride for half an hour to an hour. The rest of the time there is plenty else for them to explore with their families or caregiversThat way you can still have several families out at the same time but without limiting a child to “performing” within a certain timeframe. Their caregivers and families can use your environment for educational therapy at all times when the kid is not riding. Bring the horse to the child not the child to the horseNever make a child stop an activity they are enjoying in order to rideRather bring the horse into that activity (e.g. trampoline, pool)Let the kid get interested and take it from thereIf a kid won’t come out of the house, bring the horse into the house and do tricks there. The kid is likely to follow the horse outWork outside as much as you can. Remember autism is about the difficulty of relating to the exterior world. So the exerior is where we mostly need to beEnvironments that are half in and half out (e.g. porches, lean-to’s etc.) are good because they allow you to be outside while still under cover.Treasure hunts on horseback can be tailored to the kids interest and any educational agendas. Have as may trails as possible to keep things fresh. Let the child lead as much as possible. Offer choices, choices, choices. Accept negative communicationE.g. I don’t want to ride => Thank you so much for telling meI want to get down => thank you for telling meIf you honor negative communication, it’s still communication and the kid is then more likely to communicate possitivelyAgain humor!Remember that laughter is verbal commnicationIt also produces oxytocin. Clown a lotUse toilet humorKeep surprising the kids with funny stuff and they start communicating with you.
  • Sensory WorkBecause your environment is natural, you have already addressed many of the sensory issuesRemember that many kids on the spectrum are getting miss-information through their nervous systems the wrong switch gets thrown A breath of wind can feel like fireCloth can suddenly feel like they weight 10 tons Result = panic and meltdownBecause manmade stimuli (fluroecentstriplightsetc) you often see meltdowns in public placesYou have addressed this in your environmentNow we do the horse do their magicWe work body to body bareback with a static horseJust as Rowan did at the beginningFirst however we work with the parentsVery few kids want to get straight onto the horse when they arriveespecially when its new to them Let them go off and exploreTake mom who has not slept in weeks, whos marriage is on the rocks and who is broke and put her onto the horse body to bodyAfter having her feel the horse at arms length and then putting her cheek and heart to the horseWhen she is ready you put her up bareback and slowly guide her through the 3 basic movesforeward hug, Backward reclineThen turn her around for the butt hugShe will need support from volunteers from both sides to feel safe and someone on the horses headIf it’s a day with flys, have some one in control of the horses tail and who can maybe brush the flysaways. Choose a flyfree and quiet environmentNot lots of activity and noiceDo it within sight of where the kid is playingWhy? That way mom can relax knowing that the kid is happy and cared for. The kid can see that it’s safe up there and thirdly mom can feel in her own body the sensory benefits of destressing that this work givesThen do the same with dad/carerThen with siblingsWhen working with siblings, it can be more fun to put a vaulting sursingle with handles on the horse and let them just explore and use the horse as a climbing frameBy the time the autistic kid gets up he/she already has seen the family enjoy the horseAgain let the autistic kid explore at will but keep a hand on their back and be ready to pull them off at a moments noticeWith adults you want to stabilize them physically across the pelvisHolding them in a way that you can easily slight them off in case of an emergencyDon’t do more than 3 sessions with the same horseBecause people want to be up there for a while you will need several good sensory horsesMonitor your horses mood, if they start showing signs of irritation, don’t push it just switch horses. Horses have good days and bad daysUse mounting blocks for less able adults And long broad backed horses for adult menSome horses like to graze, some horses like to stand and be petted. Make sure the horse is comfortableAn example of how effective this can be. One autistic kid fell asleep up there. He never slept more than 3hours in his life. We transferred him into a bed after 1 hour and he slept 14 hours and it changed his sleep patterns foreverAlso your horses enjoy sensory work. It chills them out and it makes a nice change for them from athletic work. With adults if they are comfortable, it can be a good idea to gently rock the pelvis or gently massage the arms or legs to help them relax. Not all people like this but for most it really adds to the sensory benefits. It may take some people some sessions just at arms length before they get up. That’s fine go at their pace. If you are clear with clients that going slowly at the beginning leads to bigger payoff in the end you avoid the “why is my kid not riding” syndrome. So you need to be clear from the beginning about the method and of course with starting slowly when the person does start riding the work has much more qualityMove to sensory practiceExercise 1: What makes a good sensory horse?Exercise 2: What makes a good environment to do sensory work in?Exercise 3: How long should we let people stay up there?Exercise 4: How soon should we let people down?Exercise 1: The diapershake – lie on the floor, on tummy, hands by sides, partner sits next to you, puts hand on sacrum and gently rocks in rhythm, Exercise 2: Prana breathing – you breath in through the nose to fill the lungs, hold for 1 beat, exhale through closed mouth through larynx. Do 5 times – tool people can use when getting very stressed
  • Tricks: Why do them?Communication - one syllable vowel sound that’s easy to make or a simply hand gesture gets the horse to do something spectacular is a big payoffKids on the cusp of becoming verbal will often be encouraged to try their fist words to get a horse to do something Families that are having trouble relating to each other can unite around a common purpose (let’s teach this horse to bow) and pretty soon they are all working together and having a blast. The horses like it, they get treats, it expands their minds, it varies their work and with some tricks it prepares them for high school dressage movements .Tricks are useful for naughty, busy brained horses, horses that are too hot to ride with a kid, horses that are injured/un-rideable and many of the tricks have a thereputic value for the horse – strengthening shoulders/backs etc. You will need gloves, a dressage stick, some long carrots and some carrots cut into segments/other small treats. Trick 1: Look awayThis is a safety trick that stops the horse mugging you for treats. You can use it to break a mouthy pushy horse of mugging and to generally respect your space. Start with the horse on the other side of a fence/stable door or being held by an assistant. Let the horse see you have a treat, he wants it but he can’t get it.Have someone off to the side make a noiseWhen the horse looks away distractedly you say “name – are you ready – look away – and point in the direction where the head is and put the treat in their mouth”It takes many reps before the horse understands that when he looks towards the noise a treat miraculously appears in his mouht. Aftrer 15 reps (3 lots of 5) they will start turningn their head away and looking to the side in the hopes that the hanf will come to their mouth with a trat.This teaches the horses that the hand always comes to the mouth never the mouth to the hand.It makes horses safer but you must be consistant with this. PRETTY SOON your horse will start turning his head away from you even as you approach the stable door.Trick 2: SmileTake a treat and tickle the underside of the top lip and touch the outside of it in a sort of a rhythm wil raising your index figure (it takes ahwile to get the knack) whose saying smile smileAs soon as they give any forward movemtn of the lips you slide theatrat into thiekythAgain kee it to 3 repitions of 5 for each trick – go slow – it takes them some time to figure it outPretty soin your horse will be peeling its lip back as soon as it hearsd the I in simle or ses the ginurre go uKids love this one – it also makes your horse esier to catch inthefrieldTrick 3: JambettesTap the elbow of the front left while saying ‘pegasus are you ready…1…1’As soon as they give any reaction with the leg give them a treatRepeat 5 timesYou may have to fish around for the spot between the knee and the elbow which makes the horse readtinInitially we just want any reaction – we will shape it into a forward movemtn laterThen do the same with front right sayng ‘2…2’”Once they have the basic idea that they eed to lift the two front legs to commands of 1 and 2 you move to the back legsNote: every horse has a lift sport and a reflex kick spot on the back legs. Usually the lift spot is the insde of the hock, usually the kick spot is the back of the hock but I varies so make sure you stand off to the side and don’t have kids around while you train the back legs.Same deal – address the horse by name and say “3…3…3” tapping on the inside of the hock (or in some cases the outside) until you get a leg lift or even a kick. Reward either. Do 3 reps of 5 and then move to the right back and repeat with ‘4’ as the cue. These jambettes (jambe in french equal leg…jambette equals little leg or presentation if the leg) eventually become spanish walk and piaffe/passage. In our master classes we show how.Note: When horses are first learning jambettes they will offer them spontaneously hoping for treats, you or the kid can get a knock thisway. After 12 weeks or so they are too much if the horses work routine for him to offer much independely. But as a rule of thmb when working with tricks have a vlunteer hold the child gently a good leg length away when they make the cue which avoids accidents. Trick 4: Reverence BowStand the horse up square with at least 6 inhes between the friont legs. Iyrassiatance and you have a carott. The cue is down down.Between you tease the ihorse to grdually get its head through its front legs a little further each time. Go slow becuae occasionally horses can panic if they feel their cnetre of gravity goes off. What you are loooking for is for the horse to “knuckle over at the fetlock”Once he has done that you can grdaully make him dweel longer and longer down there to gethtecarott until he is virtually standing on hs head.Some horses get confused when they look for the carrot when it foesw between their legs. Your assitant can help by easing their mouth to your carott which is already wailting between thwir open legs to guide them down the last little distance. Use long carrots so you don’t et your tub accidentally nipped. Again3 x 5 repitions is good to beign with. The reverence bow eventually beocmes a bow on one knee, a knewll and then alie down. We go into these in our master classes. Trick 5: PedestalFor this you need a pre built pedestal that will not tip or collapse when the horse puts its weight on it and has enough room for at least two front feet planted straight. Do not use hay bales. A large tractor tire filled with sand or earth also works. Lead the horse to the pedestal. The horse already knows jambettes.Try for the left jambette (1,1,1) Have an assistant ready to catch the leg as it comes up and place it on the pedestal.As soon as the horse touches the pedestal with its hoof it gets a treat. Try too get the horse to keep its foot their and commit as much weight as possible with a few treats and then let them off. Try again.Eventually the horse will be quite confident placing its weight on the pedestal with one hoof.Then you can gently tug on the halter saying ‘up, up’ and after a while the horse will step up. Horses like pedestals because in the wild they will often step up like this on an object to gain wider view or a position of dominance. Once on the pedestal they can smile, do jambettes, even bowGetting all 4 feet on and then turning the pedestal into levade (controlled rear) is taught in our master classes. Surfice to say that the more tricks your horse has the more tools you have with the kids. Note: Initially we reqardevey try no matter how small with a treat. Gradually we ask for better and better tries and more and more bahvours before a treat is given however occasionally we should give random ‘jackpots’ of many treats which keep the horse contatnty interested in seein gif it can train the ape into giving the japit. Never train ticks for more than 15-20 minutes. If you sense the horse is losing attention quit and come back to it later. Getting greedy can cause the horse to eclipse the behavior and stop trying all together. There are many ticks to learn. A fantastic set of dvds can be bought from allenpogue at www.imagineahorse.com. Work to these videa and your horse will be playing sxophone on a unicycle while reprogramming you computer pretty soon.
  • Backriding 1: Preparing and maintaining the Hose Boy HorseTopline”To carry a rider and child in an oversized saddle your horse needs to have a well established top line of muscle going from the pole down the neck over the back and over the croup. Some horses come blessed with top lines some do notLunging To create a top line it helps to start lunging your horse 3 days a week in side reins at an active trot. (make sure the side reins are sufficiently taute as the horse trots forward that the horses neck and back muscles are seen to be flexing and the horse is on the vertical)Keep these side reins session to start with to 5 min to start with and then increase slowly to 30 minutes when the horse is sufficiently fit after 8 -12 weeksThis will really help maintain your horse through the year. Makes sure inside hind steps in front of outside hind as much as possible LongliningLong lining (long reining in the UK) is also really good for putting on top line and teaching collection and rhythm. You want to get the horse able to trot in collection at you walkWe will get into the practical exercises for this in the academics sectionHill work When hacking out, a useful training aid is a market harborough (aka German martingale in America ) which helps the horse flex when you ask for a contact but also allows them to stretch and see where they are goingPrepare:Ground exercise 1: Flexions from the pole and jawThe horse has to learn to be soft in hand. It’s easier for them to learn this without a riderStand next to the horses shoulder. Put 2 fingers into the bit ring and gently flutter until the horse breaks at the pole and relaxes the jaw. Reward and releaseAsk for the pole and jaw flexion with a slight bend to the left. Reward and releaseThen do the same to the right. Reward and releaseGround exercise 2: Yield the quarterStand at the horses left shoulderHold reins just under the bit in your left handLook backwards towards his hing legsRaise hand with dressage stickAsk horse to bend towards you with left handStart walking backwards in a large circleAsking the horse to stop with the inside hind infront of the outside hind. Four steps is enough then move to the other side and ask for the other directionFinish on a good step not an evasive backward steopIf horse won’t step under properly, two things have usually happened you either have not enough inside bend or you are not walking him forward enoughRidden exercise 1:RhythmRidden exercise 2: Count down:Establish rhythm and basic collection (= horses backlegs underneath them) through count down exercisesCount to 10 in a 4/4 rhythm at walk then haltThen do 8 and halt6 and halt4 and halt2 and halt1 and haltThen change directionsThe halt is a 3 phase movemet (take, give, release)When you feel the horse drop its head and come light – and you must insist on a true haltThen move forward into that lightnessLearn to use a dressage stick on the horses croup and a voice command more than heavy kicks. So you avoid thumbing the horses ribs or jerking the seat, neither of which are pleasant for the childWe need the horse soft of the leg to go and equally sort to stopNow do the same count downs in trotTop tip: if you use the Market Harborough you combine it with topline building which is therapeutic. Secont top tip: Don’t count steps, just give a rough ridden guideline in 4/4 rhythm in walk and 2/2 rhythm in trot. Counting steps doesn’t matter sticking to the rhythm matters. Also if you use a MH while riding with a child, you don’t have to worry about the horses neck to come upside down Why does this matter? Upsidedown neck = weak back = sore horseWhen you are comfortable with the count down and remember to use your voice really clearly (the horse appreciates this) you prepare for the canter workTop tip: it’s all about the transitions. Good transitions will allow nice canters. Also transitions from environment to environment on the horse and from gait to gait that feel good, eventually translate for better transitions away from the horse, e.g. car to supermarket, car to school. Transitions are notoriously difficult for autistic people we can help with this. Ridden exercise 3: Ride a circlePick up a soft jog trot (sitting) ask for a little inside flex so that you can see a half or a corner of the horses inside eye – this is a basic shoulder foreAs you go around the next part of your circle sit to the outside and indicate with your outside rein and the horse will step over in a basic leg yieldNext practice looking into the inside of the circle in a slightly exaggerated fashion so that your profile is turned. Pick a spot in the center to look at and fix your eyes there for a full beatFinally practice bringing the outside leg slightly back and the inside hand slightly forward. When we put all these things together we will get a uphill transitionWith the trainers help paractice shoulder fore to leg yieldMax four stepsLook to the inside, inside leg on the girth outside leg slightly back give the inside rein a bit. Repeat this at a jog trot a few times then try the same at a walk and the horse will step from walk to canterTop tip: decide who many canter strides you want. No more than 4. Somewhere between 2-4 is good and count aloud as you go. Lots of transitions for trot to halt to canter to halt will eventually become a sustained and sustainable canter that really works for the kids in terms of producing oxytocin, euphoria and academics.
  • Backriding 1: Preparing and maintaining the Hose Boy HorseTopline”To carry a rider and child in an oversized saddle your horse needs to have a well established top line of muscle going from the pole down the neck over the back and over the croup. Some horses come blessed with top lines some do notLunging To create a top line it helps to start lunging your horse 3 days a week in side reins at an active trot. (make sure the side reins are sufficiently taute as the horse trots forward that the horses neck and back muscles are seen to be flexing and the horse is on the vertical)Keep these side reins session to start with to 5 min to start with and then increase slowly to 30 minutes when the horse is sufficiently fit after 8 -12 weeksThis will really help maintain your horse through the year. Makes sure inside hind steps in front of outside hind as much as possible LongliningLong lining (long reining in the UK) is also really good for putting on top line and teaching collection and rhythm. You want to get the horse able to trot in collection at you walkWe will get into the practical exercises for this in the academics sectionHill work When hacking out, a useful training aid is a market harborough (aka German martingale in America ) which helps the horse flex when you ask for a contact but also allows them to stretch and see where they are goingPrepare:Ground exercise 1: Flexions from the pole and jawThe horse has to learn to be soft in hand. It’s easier for them to learn this without a riderStand next to the horses shoulder. Put 2 fingers into the bit ring and gently flutter until the horse breaks at the pole and relaxes the jaw. Reward and releaseAsk for the pole and jaw flexion with a slight bend to the left. Reward and releaseThen do the same to the right. Reward and releaseGround exercise 2: Yield the quarterStand at the horses left shoulderHold reins just under the bit in your left handLook backwards towards his hing legsRaise hand with dressage stickAsk horse to bend towards you with left handStart walking backwards in a large circleAsking the horse to stop with the inside hind infront of the outside hind. Four steps is enough then move to the other side and ask for the other directionFinish on a good step not an evasive backward steopIf horse won’t step under properly, two things have usually happened you either have not enough inside bend or you are not walking him forward enoughRidden exercise 1:RhythmRidden exercise 2: Count down:Establish rhythm and basic collection (= horses backlegs underneath them) through count down exercisesCount to 10 in a 4/4 rhythm at walk then haltThen do 8 and halt6 and halt4 and halt2 and halt1 and haltThen change directionsThe halt is a 3 phase movemet (take, give, release)When you feel the horse drop its head and come light – and you must insist on a true haltThen move forward into that lightnessLearn to use a dressage stick on the horses croup and a voice command more than heavy kicks. So you avoid thumbing the horses ribs or jerking the seat, neither of which are pleasant for the childWe need the horse soft of the leg to go and equally sort to stopNow do the same count downs in trotTop tip: if you use the Market Harborough you combine it with topline building which is therapeutic. Secont top tip: Don’t count steps, just give a rough ridden guideline in 4/4 rhythm in walk and 2/2 rhythm in trot. Counting steps doesn’t matter sticking to the rhythm matters. Also if you use a MH while riding with a child, you don’t have to worry about the horses neck to come upside down Why does this matter? Upsidedown neck = weak back = sore horseWhen you are comfortable with the count down and remember to use your voice really clearly (the horse appreciates this) you prepare for the canter workTop tip: it’s all about the transitions. Good transitions will allow nice canters. Also transitions from environment to environment on the horse and from gait to gait that feel good, eventually translate for better transitions away from the horse, e.g. car to supermarket, car to school. Transitions are notoriously difficult for autistic people we can help with this. Ridden exercise 3: Ride a circlePick up a soft jog trot (sitting) ask for a little inside flex so that you can see a half or a corner of the horses inside eye – this is a basic shoulder foreAs you go around the next part of your circle sit to the outside and indicate with your outside rein and the horse will step over in a basic leg yieldNext practice looking into the inside of the circle in a slightly exaggerated fashion so that your profile is turned. Pick a spot in the center to look at and fix your eyes there for a full beatFinally practice bringing the outside leg slightly back and the inside hand slightly forward. When we put all these things together we will get a uphill transitionWith the trainers help paractice shoulder fore to leg yieldMax four stepsLook to the inside, inside leg on the girth outside leg slightly back give the inside rein a bit. Repeat this at a jog trot a few times then try the same at a walk and the horse will step from walk to canterTop tip: decide who many canter strides you want. No more than 4. Somewhere between 2-4 is good and count aloud as you go. Lots of transitions for trot to halt to canter to halt will eventually become a sustained and sustainable canter that really works for the kids in terms of producing oxytocin, euphoria and academics.
  • Backriding 2: Riding with FreddyEquipmentOversized 20” western saddle preferable a cutting saddle with a low cantle. To be really effective remove the western stirrups and replace with easy to adjust English stirrups and take the saddle to a saddler and have English girth billets put on so it is adjustable from the saddle Do not then use the saddle for roping or other cow work!We also don’t recommend using a back strap as many horses are not habituated to this and some may buck.We recommend a synthetic saddle for lightness “Big Horn” is a good brandDO NOT USE a saddle of under 18 inches or you will push the child against the horse and probably put them off ridingDO NOT USE English saddles or saddle pads and sursingles (not stable enough for canter work with the child)We don’t recommend treeless saddles, they tend to slipWe do RECOMMEND a breast plate (the right market harborough can also act as a breast plate).Introducing Freddy the feed sackWhy a feed sack?Because its more awkward than a kid so after Freddy a kid feels easyIt makes a crinkling noise which shows if your horse is bomb prove And it smells like food so the horse is interested in it. First make sure the horse is comfortable with Freddy touching everywhere on his body, underneath him, being thrown in the air, being thrown underneath himRider mountsAssistant passes freddy up IMPORTANT: Hold freddy under his right “thigh” so that his “thigh” clears the saddle horn. The rider then takes Freddy around the middle with his/her spare hand, other hand on the reins. Doesn’t matter which hand you probably switch them as they get tiredAs soon as you have Freddy start talking to FreddyOffer choices of where to goWhich directionSing to FreddyIf you feel self consciouse and a bit of a fool, you probably are doing it right, if you don’t you are probably not doing enoughNow we do the walk and trot count downs from day one with Freddy – use them to teach Freddy how to count while also training your horse. This is how Rowan learned to countThen use to canter count upsIMPORTANT: You will need your rein hand well forward, half way up the horses neck with reins relatively short ( like the cowboys when they rope)Sit well back in the saddle with leg braced forward, like an old hunting farmerYou will not ask the horse to go in a frame when you ride with a Freddy or a childThe horse will need to go somewhat above the bitThis is why topline work on non-backriding days is so important because otherwise gradually the neck will go upside downRepeat canter exercises with Freddy, while singing, counting giving choces and generally entertaining Freddy until you have a good uphill canter transitonsDismounting FreddyHave an assistant come and raise their armsPass Freddy into their arms while raising Freddy’s right “thigh” over the saddle hornFor the assistant it is imortant when Freddy hits the ground to immediately move him wayaWhy? Because the shift in wait will sometimes make the horse take a step sideways. It’s probably the assistants foot that will get stepped on, not the childs, but why find out. So “DOWN and AWAY!”
  • Perspective taking DemoYou can use back-riding to do more than explore the exterior worldYou can use it to do perspecitve taking, rulebased games and academicsExercise 1: Perspecitve takingLine up 4 auditors in a straight line shoulder to shoulderSaddle on one side bucket on other side= of themHave 1 rider by each rider with FreddyRider points at the object and says “hey look it’s a saddle”Points at other rider and says “hey does ____ see what we see? I don’t know let’s find out. Do you want to do that at walk, trot or canter”Kid usually says canterHalt canter halt infront of new object“Hey look they saw something else on this side it’s a bucket”“Look at ____ over there. They they now see what we see or do they see something different? Last time they saw something different when they were in a different space, lets see if that is still true. Do you want to do that at walk, trot of canter?”“Canter”Halt, Canter, Halt“Now this is interesting the saddle is still here!”“Now ___ is back where they originally were. Do you think they see what we see? I don’t think so. Let’s go find out!”“No they still see the bucket!”Note: never ask/test the kid. It’s through gradual repetition that the child will begin to get this early level of PERSPECTIVE TAKING and THEORY OF MINDTHEORY OF MINDInvolves understanding that there are different states of mind, understanding that people have thoughts of believes and emotions that are different to your own. False believe, liesExercise 2: Perspective Bigger – SmallerA lot of people on the specturm have problems understanding where they fit on the universeA lot of acounts by adult autist relate deep childhood trauma with this confusionHorses can help Rider 1 sits their horseRider 2 canters towards them, pointing out that as we get closer, rider 1 gets bigger and bigger ad bigger ( you can do this in evil godzilla voice with farts on their head)i/e make it funnyWhen you reach rider 1, stopWow now they are their real size!You can even reach out and touchNow ride away and point out in evil godzilla voice w farts on the head that rider one is now getting smaller and smaller and smaller as you move awayThis exercise is simple but effective. We call it Emilie’s exercise because it was invented by one of our working students Emily Carter and ScubExercise 3: Rule Base Games - TagMost kids start playing rule based games early The first game is usully TAG YOUR IT Autistic kids find this conceptually very difficultLuckily the horse can cary the childthrough the came effortlessly and delightfullyThis is where soft transitions and collected canters really come into their ownYou can then play safely at speedRider 1 with freddy rides to volunteers still lined upTaps one on should – says TAG YOUR ITThen canters away, screaming in a frightened old lady voice “oh no, she is IT we better get away or they make us it!”Once at safe distance you say “phew we got away now she gotta make somebody else IT”General chaos ensuesYou want your volunteers (and the trainees at the training) to really get into trying to catch each other and people on horse back and people on horseback to make a big fun deal of getting away and when they are it getting somebody elseIt can take a long time for a child to really grasp the rules of the gameBut while they are learning, What fun!Horses also love itWe did this for some months with Rowan before he finally sat on his own horse dictating who should make whom it and who was it. We then knew he had gotten the rules of the gameExercise 4: Rule based games – Hide and SeekRider one takes Freddy into the corner and starts counting 1-20 while rider 2 and other participants all go hideReady or not here I comeMake the process of finding everyone as joke and fart filled as possibleExercise 5: Academics – Additions, subtraction, division, multiplicationWe have already been teaching kids basic counting with the count down exercisesNow we can move to more complex stuffLine your volunteers/partiipacnts back up againRider one says to rider 2 “hey I’ve heard about this thing called math. It sounds pretty boring”Rider 2 “I don’t know shall we find out?Rider 1 “I heard there are those things addition, multiplication, division. I have no idea what they are can you help me find out?”Rider 2 “Ok, let’s start with substraction I think that means taking away”Ider 1 “ok then let’s take one away from the group” Rider 2 does this with dressage stickRider 1 “ahh so you take one away from 4 and that leaves 3, that is kind of interesting” “what happens if you put that person back?”Rider 2 “Ithink that is addition, letsl fin out. “ do that with godzilla voice anc farts. Rider 1” so if you bringe one back you have 4 again that’s additionRider 1 “ I heard about this thing called division, sounds complicated, is it?”Rider 2 “I don’t know I guess it means dividing stuff. Shall we devide that group into 2?”Rider 1 “ok shall we do that at walk trot or canter?”Rider 2 “canter for sure’Rider 1 “ok lets go”Canters round and with a big wahay charges the volunteers who scatterRider 1 “well that was interesting, shall we multiply them back together again?”Rider 2 “alright, lets round them up’Cantering round shouting multiply multiply multiply in an evil godzilla voice with farts we riund everybody back into their original groupWhat we are getting at here is that you need to introduce academics at a conceptual basis before you starting doing them as abstrat problems or exercises – if you take this gradual approach you really give the id time to undertand the process behind everything and their teachers will start to report amazing things to you. Agin we do not test the kid on what they have or have not learned. We let them get it by slow drip osmosis and play.Exercies 6 – FractionsRide with Freddy in a circle and canter all the way around the circle while talking about it “we are cantering all the way around”“Now let’s try half way around…do you want to do that at the walk, trot or canter…canter…no problem”Canter half way around“Oh look there is another half to do…want to do that at the walk trot or canter”“Canter…ok so two halves make a whole…how about that?”Then you break it down into quarters etc. This is where a horse being able to go from halt to canter to halt becomes really useful.Can you do this without the canter…yes…but with the canter you can distract the kid with the fun/oxytocin effect and they will learn more. With Rowan we introduced this in the fall of 2008 , within two weeks he was doing some basic fractions on paper, by three months he was adding and subtracting fractions in double figures and carrying the number.Break for tea
  • Perspective taking DemoYou can use back-riding to do more than explore the exterior worldYou can use it to do perspecitve taking, rulebased games and academicsExercise 1: Perspecitve takingLine up 4 auditors in a straight line shoulder to shoulderSaddle on one side bucket on other side= of themHave 1 rider by each rider with FreddyRider points at the object and says “hey look it’s a saddle”Points at other rider and says “hey does ____ see what we see? I don’t know let’s find out. Do you want to do that at walk, trot or canter”Kid usually says canterHalt canter halt infront of new object“Hey look they saw something else on this side it’s a bucket”“Look at ____ over there. They they now see what we see or do they see something different? Last time they saw something different when they were in a different space, lets see if that is still true. Do you want to do that at walk, trot of canter?”“Canter”Halt, Canter, Halt“Now this is interesting the saddle is still here!”“Now ___ is back where they originally were. Do you think they see what we see? I don’t think so. Let’s go find out!”“No they still see the bucket!”Note: never ask/test the kid. It’s through gradual repetition that the child will begin to get this early level of PERSPECTIVE TAKING and THEORY OF MINDTHEORY OF MINDInvolves understanding that there are different states of mind, understanding that people have thoughts of believes and emotions that are different to your own. False believe, liesExercise 2: Perspective Bigger – SmallerA lot of people on the specturm have problems understanding where they fit on the universeA lot of acounts by adult autist relate deep childhood trauma with this confusionHorses can help Rider 1 sits their horseRider 2 canters towards them, pointing out that as we get closer, rider 1 gets bigger and bigger ad bigger ( you can do this in evil godzilla voice with farts on their head)i/e make it funnyWhen you reach rider 1, stopWow now they are their real size!You can even reach out and touchNow ride away and point out in evil godzilla voice w farts on the head that rider one is now getting smaller and smaller and smaller as you move awayThis exercise is simple but effective. We call it Emilie’s exercise because it was invented by one of our working students Emily Carter and ScubExercise 3: Rule Base Games - TagMost kids start playing rule based games early The first game is usully TAG YOUR IT Autistic kids find this conceptually very difficultLuckily the horse can cary the childthrough the came effortlessly and delightfullyThis is where soft transitions and collected canters really come into their ownYou can then play safely at speedRider 1 with freddy rides to volunteers still lined upTaps one on should – says TAG YOUR ITThen canters away, screaming in a frightened old lady voice “oh no, she is IT we better get away or they make us it!”Once at safe distance you say “phew we got away now she gotta make somebody else IT”General chaos ensuesYou want your volunteers (and the trainees at the training) to really get into trying to catch each other and people on horse back and people on horseback to make a big fun deal of getting away and when they are it getting somebody elseIt can take a long time for a child to really grasp the rules of the gameBut while they are learning, What fun!Horses also love itWe did this for some months with Rowan before he finally sat on his own horse dictating who should make whom it and who was it. We then knew he had gotten the rules of the gameExercise 4: Rule based games – Hide and SeekRider one takes Freddy into the corner and starts counting 1-20 while rider 2 and other participants all go hideReady or not here I comeMake the process of finding everyone as joke and fart filled as possibleExercise 5: Academics – Additions, subtraction, division, multiplicationWe have already been teaching kids basic counting with the count down exercisesNow we can move to more complex stuffLine your volunteers/partiipacnts back up againRider one says to rider 2 “hey I’ve heard about this thing called math. It sounds pretty boring”Rider 2 “I don’t know shall we find out?Rider 1 “I heard there are those things addition, multiplication, division. I have no idea what they are can you help me find out?”Rider 2 “Ok, let’s start with substraction I think that means taking away”Ider 1 “ok then let’s take one away from the group” Rider 2 does this with dressage stickRider 1 “ahh so you take one away from 4 and that leaves 3, that is kind of interesting” “what happens if you put that person back?”Rider 2 “Ithink that is addition, letsl fin out. “ do that with godzilla voice anc farts. Rider 1” so if you bringe one back you have 4 again that’s additionRider 1 “ I heard about this thing called division, sounds complicated, is it?”Rider 2 “I don’t know I guess it means dividing stuff. Shall we devide that group into 2?”Rider 1 “ok shall we do that at walk trot or canter?”Rider 2 “canter for sure’Rider 1 “ok lets go”Canters round and with a big wahay charges the volunteers who scatterRider 1 “well that was interesting, shall we multiply them back together again?”Rider 2 “alright, lets round them up’Cantering round shouting multiply multiply multiply in an evil godzilla voice with farts we riund everybody back into their original groupWhat we are getting at here is that you need to introduce academics at a conceptual basis before you starting doing them as abstrat problems or exercises – if you take this gradual approach you really give the id time to undertand the process behind everything and their teachers will start to report amazing things to you. Agin we do not test the kid on what they have or have not learned. We let them get it by slow drip osmosis and play.Exercies 6 – FractionsRide with Freddy in a circle and canter all the way around the circle while talking about it “we are cantering all the way around”“Now let’s try half way around…do you want to do that at the walk, trot or canter…canter…no problem”Canter half way around“Oh look there is another half to do…want to do that at the walk trot or canter”“Canter…ok so two halves make a whole…how about that?”Then you break it down into quarters etc. This is where a horse being able to go from halt to canter to halt becomes really useful.Can you do this without the canter…yes…but with the canter you can distract the kid with the fun/oxytocin effect and they will learn more. With Rowan we introduced this in the fall of 2008 , within two weeks he was doing some basic fractions on paper, by three months he was adding and subtracting fractions in double figures and carrying the number.Break for tea
  • Long-lining Long-lining is for when kids get too big to back-ride. It’s also good for horses because it builds their top line and trains them in collectionWith long-lining you are still behind the child, can still provide euphoric oxytocin producing rhythms and can enter the child’s world and ideas. The only thing you lose is the deep pressure and working at the canter unless you do our long-lining master class teaching the horse to canter in the long lines but this is very advanced stuff and takes about a year. You can trail ride in long-lines but you can also work in the arena. You tailer the letters to the child’s interests which could be anything from Jon Bon Jovi to grand theft auto to vampires to Justin Beiber. It is up to you to figure out how to start from here and generate a conversation using the dressage letters that starts to encompass history, geography, science and best of all the kid teaching you about what interests them. This leads to the highest psychological survival tool of all ‘self-advocacy’ Remember that most kids who are of long-lining age have probably been main-streamed. Many are now being bullied, maybe self-harming or worse and have had their self confidence obliterated. We an make a differ4ence by showing them that we are interested in what interests them, by showing them that we care and then gradually by getting them to teach us. First we have to learn how to long-line. Exercise 1: HowThe horse is saddled with a basic snaffle. Pass two lunge lines through the stirrup irons and clip to the snaffle.An assistant stands at the horses head to give it moral support. You are behind or slightly to the inside. Do not do this with a horse that has a kick. To get the horse to move forward tap the outside rein against it’s side and say brightly ‘walk on’. You can also tap the butt with a dressage stick.At first just get the horse used to walking in a straight lone confidently. Do the walk count downs. Then introduce the trot. Initially the horse will pull your forward into a run. As soon as this happens coe back to a halt and start again. As the horse starts trotting give a clear sideways click in your mouth in the slow rhythm that you want. Gradually after some minutes the horse will get the idea and begin to collect up its trot to the pace of your walk. Now do trot count downs.Note some horses prefer to have a ride for this when they are learning. Whenever you have a rider, client or otherwise, with long-lines do not have them put their legs in the stirrups incase they get caught in the long lines. Let their legs dangle free. Divide your trainees up into groups of 3 and have them practice being the driver, the walker at the horses head and the ride. After 2-3 minutes have them switch so that everybody gets a turn at each position. The you and your assistant demo how to use the arena to get the child or young adult to start teaching you about what interests them. Have your ride be kind of uncooperative at first with negative statements like ‘I hate everything, not really, suppose so and gradually draw them out. Show how you can go from super mario kart to the history of video games, to technology to the industrial revolution to tool making animals to electronics, plastics, fossil fuels ,fossil forest, dinosaus and so on. How you can go out in any direction from any starting point with a little preparation.
  • So whats it all for?Autism is a gift and a skill setIt is theraputic for we neuro-typicals to be around autisits because they have very quiet egos. They di it press o ego buttons and gie us a break from our won eos and the psycholgical pain that goes with having them. Should we be paying tem a therapist fee…perhapsTheh horses also tend to go sweeter with autistic kids on or near them. Should we pay them a trainers fee especially as they get old enough to help us lunge, long-line and trick train horses? Wuite possibleThe line between who is the healer, therpaist, trainer and so on gets very blurred. But there is moreBeing in service to these people helps your own dreams come true. It is as if they are dream whisperers that can gentle tame dreams so that you can ride them to their tuitionsSo what are your dreamsHave you forgotten, have they been broken lost or buriedAsk yourself before you go to bed tonightWhat were those dreams I had as a childIt may take a day for them to come bubbling back out of your unconscious and when they do you will think ‘aww I can’t have it.’Can’t you?When you are in service to the dreams of these children, families, people your own dreams start to come trueIf we meet a year from now I bet you 10 quid that you will tell me that those very personal dreams that you had since you were a child are now stating to come true.

Horse Boy Method Intro Workshop Horse Boy Method Intro Workshop Presentation Transcript

  • Horse Boy Method Workshop • Theory Overview Basic 2 Day Day 1: • Environment Certification • Sensory • Tricks Day 2 • Back-riding & horse preparation, Trail ride with Freddy • Theory of mind, Perspective taking & games • Academics & Self-Advocacy • Long lining
  • The Horse Boy • The story • What has happened since? • Horse Boy Foundation • New Trails • Horse Boy Camps • Horse Boy Method • Horse Boy World • Not here to CURE Autism • Address dysfunctions • Autism is NOT a problem to be fixed. • So what is Horse Boy Method?
  • So what is Horse Boy Method? • Simple 6-stage process • Gets direct communication going • Enhances the gifts by addressing the dysfunctions • Proving ground for other neuro-psychiatric conditions • Enhances healing for families and kids • Stage 1: Environment • Stage 2: Sensory Work • Stage 3: Back-riding • Stage 4: Perspective Taking & Theory of Mind • Stage 5: Academics • Stage 6: Self-Advocacy • We don’t teach kids how to ride • Be Self-Compassionate! • What’s in it for me?
  • Self-Compassion & Brainchemistry • Working with Autism is difficult • Working with horses can be difficult • Be kind to yourself in order to be effective • Bio- chemistry in brain • Oxytocin vs. Cortisol • Amygdala in horses and people on spectrum => anxiety • Parallel between young horses and autistic kids • Exercise 1: Oxytocin vs. Cortisol • Hands out • Clench fists • Say something shitty to yourself • Open palms • Cross hands • Lay over heart Oxytocin
  • Why are we talking aboutAutism? - Prevalence • Autism has gone from something quite rare (2 kids in 10,000 20 years ago) to a PANDEMIC (at least 1 child in 100) • Therapeutic riding stables are experiencing a tsunami of autistic kids • Old methods of therapeutic riding are designed for physical disability and don’t work for autism • 4:1 male to female ratio • True Autism • Reaction to toxins in environment • Is the increase improved diagnosis? • What do you mean the environment is getting more toxic? • Is it because of vaccinations?
  • Myths of Autism • Autism is much misunderstood. • Here are the main misunderstandings: 1. All individuals with autism are alike 2. Autistic people don’t have feelings 3. Autistic people don’t form relationships 4. All autistic people are savants 5. Autistic people have no language skills 6. Autistic people don’t make good eye contact 7. Autistic people don’t have empathy 8. Autistic people can’t have careers 9. AUTISM IS A PROBLEM TO BE FIXED
  • Autism Truth • Autism is a spectrum of neuro-psychiatric conditions • Continuum • Key feature: difficulty communicating with the exterior world. • Common features: • sensory problems, gastrointestinal problems, sleep difficulties, epilepsy, repetitive behaviors etc. • Asperger’s Syndrome • PDD-NOS: most common, current diagnosis. • Related disorders: • Angelman’s syndrome • William’s syndrome, • Rhett’s syndrome, etc.
  • Treatments –Autism is a lifelong diagnosis • No single treatment protocol. • Autism cannot be ‘cured’. • Common Autism Treatments • ABA (and other highly structured behavioral therapies) • Floor Time (and other play-based therapies) • Diet (gluten/casein-free diet, protein deficiency and others) • Biomedical (chelation, Valtrex, etc.) • Treatments that work for one child may not work for another! • People’s understanding of Autism is still simplistic • Get answers online at “Ask Cisco” on www.horseboyworld.com
  • Environment • Stop the white noise / physical discomfort • Entire environment for Autism/Sensory = 50% of success • Kids first, horses second • Most kids will spend most time NOT on horse • Other animals • Environment within an environment • Inside & outside toys and playrooms. • TRAMPOLINE most important piece of equipment • Everything must be about ‘YES’ • If we say ‘NO’ a lot the child thinks we are not worth communicating with • Avoid sensory triggers • Sensory trails & rooms : Does and Don’ts • Learning to order the environment • Edible, tracking, wildlife, farming environments, fires • Indoor arenas & lighting
  • Exercise 1: • Take an average suburban backyard. How can we make these into optimum autism environments?
  • Exercise 2: • Take an average suburban living room. How can we make these into optimum autism environments?
  • Exercise 3: • Take an average school yard. How can we make these into optimum autism environments?
  • Exercise 4: • Take an average indoor/outdoor riding arena. How can we make these into optimum autism environments?
  • Exercise 5: • Take an average therapy/class room. How can we make these into optimum autism environments?
  • The Human Environment – Tribe • It takes a village to raise a child • Suburban life creates ISOLATION • Horse Boy Tribe • Should NOT feel like therapy • Should feel like fun, play, exploration • Coming out to the family farm • Changeable structure • Humor and laughter • Easy and informal • FAMILIES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR CHILDREN AT ALL TIMES • When child ready to ride your team jumps in
  • The Learning Environment: • Communicate don’t teach • Don’t test or pressure instead continually impart information • Involve the family (Parents, siblings, careers are the expert) • Open ended time frame • Bring the horse to the child, not the child to the horse • Never interrupt an activity • Bring the horse into the house if necessary • Work outside as much as you can: Trails, circus, water activities etc. • Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation: Let the child lead, offer choices and start where the child is • Accept negative communication “I want down!” – “Thank you for telling me!” • Humor • Laughter IS verbal communication • Laughter produces oxytocin • Toilet humor IS funny!
  • Sensory Work • Autistic kids get misinformation through their nervous systems • A breath of wind can feel like fire • Clothes can suddenly feel like they weigh 10 tons • Result = panic and meltdown • Work body to body bareback with a static horse • Stimming often stops (use of good stimms) • First the parent, care giver and/or sibling • Arm’s length, cheek and heart, forward hug, backward recline, butt hug. • Support with volunteers and stabilize • Be prepared for emergency dismount if needed • Choose quiet location within sight of child • Let the child explore • Monitor horse’s mood • Long, broad backed horses are ideal • Changing sleep patterns
  • Sensory Practice • Exercise 1: The diaper-shake: lie on the floor, on tummy, hands by sides, partner sits next to you, puts hand on sacrum and gently rocks in rhythm • Exercise 2: Prana breathing: you breathe in through the nose to fill the lungs, hold for 1 beat, exhale through closed mouth through larynx. Do 5 times – tool people can use when getting very stressed
  • Tricks • Why do them? • Communication • One syllable vowel sound • Hand gesture • Horse does something spectacular => big payoff • Help families connect • “Please help me train my horse!” • Horses like it • Naughty busy brained horses • Injured and hot horses • Does it make my horse mouthy? • The use of treats, sticks and gloves • Trick 1: Look away • Trick 2: Smile • Trick 3: Jambettes • Trick 4: Reverence Bow • Trick 5: Pedestal • www.imagineahorse.com
  • Mind Benders • Rowan • Oak • Scott • Conrad • Chimenne
  • Back riding 1: preparing & maintaining • Goal: Throughness (a horse that says yes to soft aids (weight, leg hands) • How do I get there: Classical Training Scale • Start where the horse is • Topline: What is it? How do we create it? • Lunging in side reins/Vienna, Long-lining & Hill work • Training aids • Market Harborough (German Martingale) • Draw reins, Vienna side reins • Dressage stick, spurs • Demo: • Ground exercise 1: Flexion from pole and jaw • Ground exercise 2: Yield the quarters • Ridden exercise 1: Rhythm • Ridden exercise 2: Count downs at walk, trot • Ridden exercise 3: leg yield into canter transition
  • Back-riding 2: Riding with Freddy • Equipment • Oversized 20” synthetic western saddle (e.g. Big Horn) with breastplate • Do not use • Never smaller than 18” • English saddle, surcingle or treeless • Introducing Freddy the feed sack • Desensitizing your horse • Mounting • Hold Freddy around the middle with one hand, reins in other hand • Talk, sing, offer choices, tap on body • Dismounting Freddy • Ridden exercise 1: trail ride with Freddy. Sing and talk to Freddy offer choices • Ridden exercise 2: walk and trot count downs with Freddy
  • Perspective taking • When comfortable back-riding we can start with perspective taking, rule based games and academics. • Social Skills – Applied tricks • Rule Based Games • Exercise 1: Does Freddy see what we see? • Exercise 2: Bigger and smaller • Exercise 3: Tag – You are it! • Exercise 4: Hide and seek • Exercise 5: False belief
  • Academics • Introduce concepts • DO NOT test the child • Exercise 5: Math (additions, subtractions, division, multiplication) • Exercise 6: Fractions • Exercise 7: Using the arena letters to teach any subject (with long lines) • In our series Horse Boy Learning we go into greater detail on how to teach academics in a stress free environment with and without horses. More details on our website: www.horseboyworld.com
  • Long-lining • Kids get too big to back-ride • Builds your horse’s topline • Benefits • Still behind the child • You can provide oxytocin producing rhythm • You lose: • Deep pressure • Canter (unless you train “Terre a Terre” in long-lines) • Trail rides and arena work • Arena letters to teach any subject starting with their interest • Exercise 1: Learning to long-line • Exercise 2: Self-advocacy - Let them teach you what interests them!
  • Dream-whisperers • Autism is a gift and a skill set • It is therapeutic for us neuro-typicals • Give us a break from our own egos • The horses also tend to go sweeter with autistic kids • Blurring the boundaries • But there is more thing • Helps your own dreams come true. • So what are your dreams • When you are in service to the dreams of these children, families, people your own dreams start to come true