Can a Horse Help People with Special Needs?

The Equine Assisted Training and Employment (Equate) programme gives a resounding yes. 

Run by the Equestrian Federation of Singapore, the Equate programme...

...brings together horses and special needs youth. 

The youths come in as volunteers and learn to take care of the horses.

Through the daily care of the beautiful creatures, the youth recognise their own capabilities and blossom.



Horses are social creatures. They seem to have a knack for sensing a person’s emotions, and responding accordingly. 

Some of the youth struggle with anger management, depression or lack of motivation.

A horse’s sensing of where a young person is and its acceptance of him, helps the youth to understand his own behaviour. 

Each youth volunteer spends a month learning how to approach a horse and going through the steps of working with it.

The slow and steady pace not only enables the youth to get comfortable working with the animal, but also positively influences his social skills. 

The youths also gradually learn how to work in teams, to take instructions and complete their tasks confidently – quite a contrast from when they first begin.

“The horse can give the child maybe the very first success that the child’s ever had in his young life,"says Dr Melanie Chew, the president of the Equestrian Federation. 

Of course working with such a large animal can be intimidating initially. Hamara, who was fearful of horses, has since defeated her apprehensions.

“Now I’m not afraid of them anymore,” she says. “And I love horses.”

Equate is an example of how animals can impart skills to those with special needs, which humans are sometimes unable to.

The result is beautiful and tremendous, with the volunteers learning to manage their emotions, developing persistence, and even becoming better communicators.

And the best part of working with horses? They see you as simply human, not as someone with or without special needs.

How You Can Help

Learn more about the Equate programme

Originally published on Our Better World here

Shubhpreet Kaur

Anshul is a filmmaker who finds happiness through cinema. With Our Better World, he feels he has found a place that he loves and loves him back; where he meets awesome people and gets to capture their beautiful stories.

Shubh handles Our Better World's operations, writes stories and pitches them too. Outside of work, she enjoys the outdoors, loves the mountains and has a soft-spot for animals.

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