The ideal playdate is not a child riding for an hour and then going home. This does not make much sense to the autistic mind which can take a long time to transition from one environment to another.
Also, it doesn’t involve the family enough and the rigidity of the time frame makes it stressful for the people working with the families.
The ideal playdate therefore is open ended. Families come out for the morning or the afternoon (usually 3-4 hours).
During that time, most kids will want to ride or otherwise interact with the horses for an average of 30-90 minutes. During the rest of that time if you have set up your environment correctly, then everything that the child comes into contact with will have a high sensory and / or educational value.
Parents: your child may or may NOT ride during a playdate – we let the child lead us and jump in the moment they express interest or desire.
This is because we are here to get direct communication by whatever means.
If the child is clearly wanting to do something different from riding and is fully engaged in that activity, then we will engage in that activity with the child so is to promote communication.
By taking this no-pressure, child-centric approach it means that when the child does come to ride we can optimize it and have built the necessary trust to really get communication in the saddle going.
What all parents must do to help this process work is “shadow” their children and engage with them at all times when they are not on or with horses.
This means that our team can really work intensively with the child when they are with the horses and not have to dilute their attention too much.
Parents need to tell us, what their child’s passions and interests are, so that we can tailor playdates as much as possible to those children.
This does not just mean the autistic child, but also the siblings. If an autistic boy has a pony-mad sister then we need to know that so we can server her dream of wanting to ride.
If there is a brother that likes soccer or martial arts, then this gives us a chance to play to those interests too.
Horse Boy Method seeks not only to get communication with autistic children but also to show siblings, that their brother’s or sister’s autism can open doors not just shut them.
This is immensely healing.
Also parents and siblings; we need your help! You guys are the ones who understand the child best and who can interpret the signals they give us so that we can be more effective. We need to work side by side to make this happen.
Playdates at New Trails usually consist of about 3-5 families all engaged in different activities like trampoline, swingset, ducks, chickens, goats, dogs or rats, toys and games as well as horse time.
We do not charge families to come but appreciate donations. For available playdates, please contact Jenny Lockwood.
To find a Horse Boy Method practitioner near you, visit our membership directory. (coming soon.)
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Information deemed to be reliable but not guaranteed. Check for pricing and trainings. Terms subject to change.
The Horse Boy Method is not intended or offered as a cure for autism. Ameliorative effects may or may not occur. The method was found to be very useful with Rupert's son Rowan and with other children subsequently. We simply follow what worked for Rowan and others but there is no guarantee of outcome.
By participating in a Horse Boy Method session or training or applying them at home you accept full personal responsibility for any injury or death that can follow any equine activity. The Horse Boy Foundation accepts no liability.
Just as a reminder… The Horse Boy Method Training is an intro into the methods including but not limited to back-riding. We do NOT suggest that you go home and start back-riding with children. Practice, practice, practice! Seek professional advice from your trainers to deepen your skills as a rider and horseman/woman. Take lessons! Again, after the training you are probably NOT ready to ride with a child. Practice until you, your horses and your property are ready for back-riding! HORSE BOY LLC, IT’S MEMBERS, OFFICERS, TRAINERS ETC ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY INJURY, DEATH OR DAMAGE CAUSED BY YOU BACKRIDING WITH A CHILD OR OTHER PERSON.
We do suggest you and anybody you work with wears protective gear like protective riding helmets etc.