The New Horse Boy Method...Sans Horses

By Rupert Isaacson and Iliane Lorenz, Horse Boy World

Horse Boy Method For those who read about Horse Boy Method in the August 2012 issue of The Buzz, we have some updates to share with you. As you may know, Horse Boy Method addresses Autism, not as a problem to be fixed, but as a skill set and a series of gifts. The Method helps people with Autism bridge the communication gap and connect more with the external world. Horse Boy Method can also be helpful to those with other neuro-psychiatric conditions such as ADD and ADHD.

The Method follows a six-stage process:

  1. set up the right environment for the child;
  2. address the child’s sensory issues;
  3. move to riding in the same saddle with the child to explore the exterior world;
  4. then to perspective-taking and rule-based games like “Tag" on horseback;
  5. to teaching actual academics on horseback;
  6. and finally teaching the child to speak for his or herself (self-advocacy).

Horse Boy Method sans HorseSome children do emerge as riders through this process, but the Method is not designed to teach children to ride. We are here to get communication. The horse is our colleague in this process.

But people have asked us, “What do we do if we don’t have access to horses?"

Fair question!

To which we have an answer. We have figured out how to adapt any urban or suburban environment to Horse Boy Method, and how to adapt play equipment (swings, slides, climbing frames, etc.) to replicate the experience with the horse. We have even started to use surf boards and surfing.

Starting in 2013 we will be rolling out Horse Boy Learning, a multi-curricular approach to kinetic learning.

What is Kinetic Learning? Also known as tactile learning, it’s learning that takes place while the child is engaged in movement instead of sitting and listening to someone talk or lecture.

Horse Boy Method

Why Kinetic Learning? Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that what people with Autism, ADD, ADHD or any other neuro-psychiatric condition, really need is MOVEMENT. To learn they must MOVE. If they are made to sit still, then they can learn only one thing: how to sit still. The stress is too great to allow them the bandwidth for anything else.

You can get started with Kinetic Learning right now by observing these two fundamentals:

  1. Move while the child is moving—for example, on a trampoline, a climbing frame, running, swimming;
  2. Place the child on a moving object—such as a horse, a swing, a train, a surfboard.

And then observe the 5-15 minute rule: Do no academic activity for more than 15 minutes at one time and no high-pressure learning for more than 5 minutes at a time. Repeated short bursts of learning are way more effective than sustained sessions.

Horse Boy Method

Also never directly test the child. This kind of pressure makes them shut down even if they have the knowledge. After a few weeks, you can indirectly test by setting up treasure hunts and so on that ask the child to apply their knowledge. However, in the early stages of learning simply model the answers rather than asking the child to provide the information; the child will learn much more effectively this way.

Want to learn more? For a prelude of what’s coming in 2013, come to the San Jose Abilities Expo on November 16-18 to see the Method demonstrated with live horses, compliments of Square Peg Foundation, an approved Horse Boy World center located in the Bay Area. These knowledgeable representatives will talk with attendees about the Horse Boy Method—in both the with-horse and no-horse applications. Horse Boy World items, including instructional DVDs and the book The Horse Boy, will be available for purchase at the event. You can also learn more at www.horseboyworld.com or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/horseboyworld.  

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