In yet another case of equine-assisted therapy helping people overcome obstacles, the Washington Post ran a story about how horses can benefit seniors with dementia.
The farm involved, which offers all manner of riding lessons and horse therapy for people, is called Simple Changes Therapeutic Riding Center and is based in Mason Neck, Virginia. Back in 2017, Simple Changes teamed up with Goodwin House, a retirement living center, to create a program especially for seniors at the home.
The idea came from horsewoman Barbara Bolin, a social worker at Goodwin House, and she approached the owner of Simple Changes, Corliss Wallingford, with the idea of creating a program. “Corliss and I believe horses are magical and they can fix almost anything,” Bolin told the newspaper.
According to the Post article, up to six people take part in a four-week program, “which include horse identification, grooming, feeding, leading, discussing equine literature, poetry and haiku writing, and making horse treats.”
Human-animal interaction (HAI) and its benefits are well-documented, and there are specific studies that prove that spending time with animals benefits seniors and leads to healthy aging, helping with loneliness, depression and anxiety, and cardiovascular health, as well as dementia and cognitive impairment. Travel to and from the farm and the stimulating social and learning aspects were also a welcome change in routine for the seniors.
Yet another reason to keep ourselves in the saddle as long as possible, or at the very least, in the barn.