Over the past year, parents in Hanoi have been sending their autistic kids to the Hanoi Horse Club in Cau Giay District to practice horse riding in a bid to improve their psychological health.
In addition to autistic kids, the club has also received children with cerebral palsy.
At the club, experts consider each learner's individual personalities and overall health to offer appropriate lessons to help children reduce hyperactivity and assist them in rebuilding self-confidence.
Nguyen Thi Hoa Hop, a horse riding instructor, said the horse is a special animal which requires a sophisticated thought process and intelligence to be ridden.
It also requires riders to be patient, demonstrate perseverance as well as quick reflexes.
For these reasons, spending time playing with horses helps raise emotional awareness in children as well as reward them for good behavior.
In addition, taking care of horses teaches children to love and care about other people, and how to express their personal feelings, integrate and be confident in life.
According to Doctor Thanh Ngoc Minh, head of the psychopathology department of the Central Children's Hospital, autistic kids have been encouraged to play with animals for a long time.
However, he said there is still a need for specific scientific research to evaluate the efficacy of horse riding as a treatment method.
Playing with horses should be considered a support measure in addition to medicine and psychological therapy, the doctor added.
Most of the autistic children or children with cerebral palsy usually fear and cower, display hyperactivity and find it hard to control their feelings and behaviour. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Many of them have to spend a lot of time getting used to horses because they fear them and struggle to get close to the animals. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Kids and their parents are very comfortable, happy and interested in the class as they consider it an outdoor activity. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Nem is one of the first members who have joined the class since it began. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Four-year-old Nguyen Anh Khang is a special case who has demonstrated magical improvement. After 19 practicing sessions, Khang has recovered from a boy with cerebral palsy who could not even sit to almost being able to walk the first steps of his life thanks to his will to surpass himself. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Bach, 7, a hyperactive autistic boy who finds it hard to control himself took three weeks to get used to his horse and sit on the animal. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Depending on children’s health and psychological condition, experts work with their relatives to offer suitable exercises. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A child sits on a horse’s back and plays games which require high concentration. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Many foreign children also join horse riding to improve their agility and general mobility. Photo: Tuoi Tre