Why are animals used in therapy? Why not just stick to the normal therapy visit at
a doctor's office or a rehab center? Why are animals an incredibly effective means
of therapy--physically, emotionally, and psychologically? Many people have asked
these questions. The best answer...just watch it in action.
Animals in therapy...because it is a matter of unconditional love and acceptance;
animals give unconditionally without asking for anything in return. It is the natural
movement of the horse and rider in rhythm and harmony as they interact. It is the
thrill for a six-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who struggles with his crutches
as he mounts his best friend, Mo--the big red horse who will serve as Jacob's four
good legs for an hour a week. It is Jacob's new sense of independence, skill, and
empowerment--control of an animal many times his size. It is learning to groom and
handle his horse under Deborah's watchful eye and guidance. It is the smile on his
face as he grabs a ring to place on Mo's ear as part of his therapy--stretching and
reaching with his tight palsied muscles. It is his delight and satisfaction as he
reaches new goals while he is having fun in the fresh air out in the country.
It is twin boys with Down Syndrome cantering around the ring on their horses (a high
level of achievement for any rider). It is the blue (or red or yellow or white) ribbons
at Special Olympics. It is the exclaims of pure delight in a little boy's voice as
he commands his horse during day camp, learning how to work with one of the more
difficult horses, a feat that gives him something to revel in, despite his struggles
with schoolwork. It is the giggles and smiles of a little girl with autism and cerebral
palsy who has formed an inseparable bond with the horse that picked her out to be
his rider. It is the grin on a quadriplegic's face as he stands tall in the saddle
with his helpers standing by applauding, and slowly, with effort, speaks the words,
"I appreciate you all a lot." It is the joy it gives to children who have been the
victims of abuse, difficulty, and sadness as they find purpose again in caring for
and loving their animal friends. It is an elderly nursing home resident's, "You made
my day!", as they pet the dogs and cats that snuggle on their beds.
Animals do not judge. They do not withhold love because of abilities or behavior.
They are available no matter what, and intuitively understand what is needed and
give it without hesitation. They have built-in confidentiality that encourages the
expression of open, honest feelings, or no expression at all (animals don't make
you talk when you don't want to). Animals speak with their hearts a language that
is understood by the heart.
You only have to get a small glimpse of animals working in therapy to realize the
potential they have and the miracles they play a part in! We at Kopper Top believe
in animal-assisted therapy. And as our animal crew strives to help everyone become
they best they can-- despite the struggles, difficulties, and limitations they may
face in life-- we watch our motto become a living reality..."When Spirits Run Free...There
Are No Limitations!"
Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in
their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to.