4 County Weekly News ? Thursday, June 27, 2013

Horse Boy Method comes to Prince Edward County

Bruce Bell County Weekly News When two-year-old Rowan Isaacson scampered away during an outdoor excursion in Texas and into a neighbours yard filled with a herd horses, his father, Rupert feared the worst. A severe trampling at the hooves of the grazing horses appeared to be imminent, but what happened next proved to be life altering for the family. Having been recently diagnosed with autism, Rowan was living in a closed world, struggling to communicate with others, even those who loved him most ? his parents. While Rupert watched in fear after his son threw himself on his back surrounded by horses, a cranky old Texas quarter horse called Betsy, gently nudged the other horses away and softly began licking and nibbling at the little boy?s face and half closing her eyes ? a sign of acknowledging the boy as alpha. With the blessings of Betsy?s owner, the pair began making daily visits to the horse and were soon riding tandem for hours throughout the property, as the young boy began a miraculous emergence from his world of solitude. ?Children with autism often repeat the last thing they?ve heard, especially the last three words, so it Bruce Bell photo Rupert Isaacson (left) and Iliane Lorenz of Horse Boy met with staff at H.E.A.L. Farm in Hillier on Monday to discuss the implementation of the Horse Boy Method for autistic children at the Hillier horse farm.

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or email: east 5 @kos.net can be difficult to determine if they?re really communicating or just repeating,? explained father Rupert. ?One day a heron flew away as we were riding and he pointed and said heron and I knew right away that he was starting to communicate. I think for the next two and a half years, we basically lived together in that saddle.? With his son beginning to blossom, Isaacson was convinced other children with autism and neuropsychiatric conditions would benefit from the same experience and developed the six-step Horse Boy Method. Today, it is employed throughout Europe and North America with some astonishing results. Rowan?s journey has been told to the world in a book and award-winning film, both entitled ?Horse Boy.? This week, he is visiting H.E.A.L. (Human Equine Assisted Learning) Farm and owner Suzanne Latchford-Kulker on Danforth Road, near Wellington, to train her and other volunteers to administer the program locally.

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ASK FOR MIKE Belleville: 613-403-6886 Toronto: 416-727-2592 Toll Free: 1-866-240-5426 email: royalsidepaving@sympatico.ca ?I was able to get in touch with Rupert through another facility in Nova Scotia because I thought this property would be perfect for the program,? Latchford- Kulker explained. ?I started to put it out there, just to see if there is a need in this area and I don?t think it will be very hard to fill.? Isaacson and Iliane Lorenz made the trip from the Texas facility and will spend two or three days training Latchford-Kulker and other volunteers. He said the most important aspect of developing a new facility is ensuring the environment is appropriate. ?For many of these children, things like fluorescent lighting, the hum of a refrigerator or sudden noises can trigger a reaction ? so we like to create an environment where ?yes? is the answer to almost everything,? he explained. ?Most will need some time before they are ready for the horses and in retrospect, while I initially thought it was spontaneous when Rowan climbed in with Betsy, I imagine he was checking her out for some time before that happened.? When riding begins, the child is placed in the saddle in front of the therapist, which has several benefits. The rhythmic rocking motion created by the rider rocks the child?s hips which scientist believe floods the child?s body with the feel-good hormone oxytocin; sitting behind the child the rider/therapist is a voice in the child?s ear, not a challenging frontal gaze that might upset the child, and can insinuate him or herself into the child?s though process; the rider?s arm provides deep pressure which many children on the spectrum appreciate; studies have shown that any activity that causes you to find and re-find your balance from moment to moment opens up the learning receptors of the brain. The child is thus in the ideal position to receive and retain information. When children out-grow the two-person saddle, long lines are used to duplicate the rider in the rear while the child rides the horse. The Horse Boy Method can involve the entire family said Isaacson. ?Quite often it?s the mother alone dealing with this and she is going through so much,? he explained. ?She?s getting no sleep, the child demands all of her time and she?s feeling guilty about not paying enough attention to the other children. Everyone can benefit and often it?s the siblings who are able to provide us with information about the child. They may be feeling some resentment because their brother or sister needs so much attention and they really benefit from the program as well.? Latchford-Kulker said she is hopeful the program will be available at Heal Farm in July. For more information contact Latchford-Kulker at 613-399-5952 or visit healwithhorses.ca

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