Autistic 10 year old now terrified- suggestions? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 29 Old 05-18-2015, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks AcadianArtist! Very helpful. That's sort of what I wasn't sure of- how much is genuine fear (I know a large majority of it is) and how much is just resistance to the idea because, well, he's a little boy. haha

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post #22 of 29 Old 05-30-2015, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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Can you guys think of fun leading and ground games for him to play v with his horse? Unfortunately he has regressed again. We don't know why. He was mounting at least. But now is not interested in that or in incentives to mount. So we are going to stop trying to get him to sit on the horses and just focus on games on the ground for a while because at this point he is starting to resist being around horses if he even hears that we want him to try mounting. Very discouraging but it is what it is :( we are beginning to worry though that he may never ride again.
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post #23 of 29 Old 05-30-2015, 07:22 PM
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Walking around buckets in a figure 8 or serpentine. Going to things and touching them. Over ground poles, around a tree. Many visit things. Maybe toss a ball into a manure bucket
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post #24 of 29 Old 05-30-2015, 07:28 PM
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Scavenger hunt - find things to put in saddle bags (pine cone, etc.) or follow clues from one place to another. See how quickly he can name or identify parts of the horse and saddle.
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post #25 of 29 Old 05-30-2015, 09:14 PM
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Sorry to hear he has regressed :( Autism is so hard to understand for neurotypicals.

What is his favorite thing? With my son, it was trains. Devise a game where he has to do something to earn a reward. It could be as simple as a gummy in a baggie on the horse's back. Then maybe put some up higher so he has to mount the horse to reach them. When my daughter was leasing a pony and got bored, I would put a mitten on my head and make her come get it, then trot over to a pole and set it there as fast as she could.

Does he get pleasure in rewarding the horse with horse treats? Could he be in charge of "giving treats" while you do ground work with the horse? Explain to him what the horse has to do to get the treat and then let him decide whether or not the horse deserves the reward. Of course he has to function at a certain level to do this, but he sounds like he could. Maybe then he would start to feel empathy for the horse, wanting it to succeed, and stop focusing on himself. Just an idea!
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post #26 of 29 Old 05-30-2015, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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I like the scavenger hunt idea. We figured he could lead his horse on trail walks and stuff too. I really don't know why he went backwards from willing to ride horses besides his horse, then not mount, and now not mount any horse. So far all experiences have been positive minus the kick. We continue to try and be very patient with him but at this point telling him " you have to do X to get y" is now resulting him just telling us he doesn't want y. Even if y is one of his favorite things. So he has no real desire to push himself because he'd rather just do nothing at all than try to mount or ride. So we are going to just to back to games to preserve what is left of his love for horses and try working from there. I sure hope it works!

I think he would like getting to reward hid horse too. He loves helping feed them
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post #27 of 29 Old 05-30-2015, 11:28 PM
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Honestly riding isn't for everyone so while you don't want that coming from a fear place of course the fact in and of itself may be something to just accept if you think that's what he wants.

Of course if he DOES want to ride and is just scared that's something to work on.
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post #28 of 29 Old 05-31-2015, 10:14 AM
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Trail walks would have been my first suggestion. Here's some info on creating a sensory trail, which might make the experience even more engaging (just think about horse desensitization before trying this with the student along):

Chambersburg PA Therapeutic Riding Center Sensory Trail

These are some pretty involved examples, but you get the idea-basically, take your trail space, think about things that would hold your student's attention while challenging him in some way- focusing on all the senses.

Also, here's a list of several popular therapeutic riding games. This is a mounted games list, but given your creativity, I bet you could turn a lot of them into unmounted games where your student leads the horse, you work as a team leading the horse, etc.:)

I also came across this game idea in an old Pony Club lesson book, and thought it might actually be really interesting to try it with rider with autism:

Using photos in magazines or books, children can practice reading horses' body language and expression:
- attitude, posture, movements, facial expression
- eyes and ears
- way of standing
- nostrils
- tail
This can also be practiced at the barn, using real horses.

I wonder if you could work through an activity like this- maybe starting with pictures, moving to video, and then finally to live horses- to help your rider learn about horse body language so he might feel more in control of his interactions with his horse, and be more aware of potential signs that could lead to a kick? Without knowing your rider, it may work, it may not, but could be an interesting thing to try..
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post #29 of 29 Old 05-31-2015, 10:41 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for those suggestions egrogan! I will pass them on and we will try!

Yogiwick that may be the case, and we will eventually have to accept if he just doesn't like it, but I really feel like he does because for almost 3 years he has looked forward to his rides, bouncing around excitedly, talking about it, etc. He has even fallen off before and been fine. It is just that this kick has triggered a huge fear for him for some reason. And so suddenly he doesn't like it anymore and is scared.
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