How A Horse Helped Overcome A Disability


Emma Dow 30, is non-verbal, but she knows how to say a few words.

Emma learned to say “hoo” because she loves owls.  She learned “apple” because she loves food and it was an easy word to remember when she was learning the sounds of the alphabet. She can say “walk” because that’s the word she uses to make her horse go.

Dow was born with a disability that prevents her from doing everyday activities.  She has long been coming to High Horses Therapeutic Riding Center In Sharon to help overcome some of those challenges.

Riding a horse helps improve Dow’s posture and stability. Sitting up tall and stretching her arms out to her sides on horseback strengthens muscles she needs to put away dishes, for example, said Dow’s riding instructor Sienna Whitney.
 Sienna has been teaching Emma since 2015.
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Every part of horse maintenance is used in the riding program--even brushing. Brushing a horse helps Emma's arms and core strength while improving left/right, brain activity.

 The best part?

 “The horse does most of the work,” said Sienna.

The simple movement of a horse helps those with disabilities and physical limitations overcome their challenges.

Horses are used to improve communication and listening skills, and strengthen muscles that make daily tasks hard.

Since coming to High Horses, Emma is more confident. She listens better and she’s stronger. The changes are noticeable to her caregiver--who attributed Emma's improvements to the staff-- especially to Sienna.

 “Most people talk around these kids and (Sienna) talk to them—and they respond,” said Betty. “They listen.”

 Fun Fact About Emma:
Emma’s favorite place to go is Disney World. This time of year she starts spreading her arms to her sides—the sign for flying—because she anticipates the family’s annual trip.


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