What You Need:
Soft toys
Hard toys
Bucket/Barrel (optional)

Today’s game is more of a lesson objective. The game or task can be adapted however is necessary to meet the lesson objective for your client. The goal is to get the client to feel different textures, starting with soft and hard.

Horses and horseback riding come with a lot of textures. Soft horse hair, scratchy manes, smooth saddles, rubber reins, hard stirrups… you get the picture. Clients with special needs may struggle with all the different textures that they need to feel in a single session. The objective for this lesson is to get the clients to recognize different textures.

Here’s one way to play:

  1. Set up hard and soft toys around the arena. I used stuffed animals and rings because that’s what I had.
  2. Have the client ride over to the toys, whoa, and pick up JUST the hard or soft toys. Depending on the client, you may need to help them determine which is hard and which is soft. You can do this as often as the client needs.
  3. Then have the client go pick up the opposite toy. If s/he first picked up soft toys, now go pick up hard toys.
  4. Give the client both options and have the client pick just soft (or hard). This lets you know if the client is understanding the different textures.

This objective can carry through several lesson plans. You could do smooth and rough textures, leather and metal objects, or even heavy and light.

Observe how the clients experience each texture. Are they hesitant to touch one or the other? Do they understand soft/hard before smooth/rough? Is there a favorite texture? These are all important insights into the client and help provide some context for additional goals for each client.

Let me know if you try this in your next lesson! I’d love to hear from you below.

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About Me

Hello! I am a PATH, Intl CTRI (certified therapeutic riding instructor) and ESMHL (equine specialist in mental health and learning). I am also a graduate student clinician in speech-language pathology.

This is my little arena where I will share my experience in equine assisted activities and my burgeoning knowledge in speech-language pathology.

I’m so happy to have you here!


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