What You Need:
Toys that move or can be moved
(i.e. balls or dice to toss OR wind-up/battery toys)
This lesson can be done mounted or unmounted. The objective is to observe movement. The movement can be smooth or choppy, fast or slow, high or low. Some examples include tossing a ball up in the air and catching it, rolling a ring or hula hoop on the ground, and letting a wind-up toy walk across a barrel.
Why is this important? Movement can be very distracting or overwhelming to clients with sensory processing disorders. It can be difficult for the client to understand the movement, especially if there is a sound that goes with the movement, like with a wind-up toy.
Movement can also be used to calm or distract a client from a negative behavior. A client with ADHD or ASD may need to be brought back to the task at hand. Movement (even a wave in their line of vision) can bring the client back to the task.
Movement can also make a lesson more fun and engaging. Instead of dropping a ball into a bucket, ask the client to roll the ball across the arena. Roll dice and count up the numbers the dice land on. Watch a hula hoop roll down the aisle and see where it lands. Lengthening a movement can capture the client’s attention for longer. Ask the rider to watch the full movement of a wind-up toy and see if it holds their attention.
The horse is a great example of movement. In a ground lesson, work with the horse on a lunge line to observe the horse’s free movement. In a mounted lesson, ask the rider to feel the horse’s movement. Have them place their hands on the horse’s neck or haunches and feel the horse’s movement beneath them.
It’s okay to slow down in lessons and just observe. I often find myself trying to rush through a part of the lesson to get to the game so I can check it off the list, but that is not the purpose of therapeutic riding. Completing the game is rarely the goal. It is the way a task is completed and what challenges arise that help us tailor lessons to our clients. Take the time to observe your client while they observe movement.
Do they like fast or slow movement better? Is choppier movement (like a trot) better for them than smoother movement? Do they possibly need a different horse for a better fitting movement? Can they follow a movement through to the end, like a rolling hula hoop until it falls? These are all important notes for your lessons and can help you build future lesson plans.