Photo by Patrick Lacombe

Quarter Horse Assoc. opens horse show to special needs participants

by / 0 Comments / 49 View / April 15, 2015

By Patrick Lacombe, The Belton Journal

The Mid-Tex Quarter Horse Association (MTQHA) held a Horse show Saturday at the Bell County Expo Center and added two new classes to the event.

Class 27a Adaptive Walk and Class 27b Adaptive Trail are open to all ages of rider but are restricted to those individuals that require an adaptive controlled environment. Spotters were present in the arena to provide any assistance that may have been required.

These two new classes allow children and adults diagnosed with autism to participate in Equine Assisted Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). Behavior analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place.

Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When a behavior is followed by some sort of reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior.

“Horses are therapy for a lot of people,” Sherri Nabours, Board member of the MTQHA said. “Kids with autism that love horses are the reason we added these classes.”

Stephanie Baker of Central Texas Behavioral Solutions (CTBS) came up with the idea of providing the children that receive counseling through CTBS with an equine assisted ABA program. Baker, a board certified behavior analyst, explained the program.

“Kids learn horsemanship skills along with incorporating their ABA goals into a different setting along with people and animals,” she said. “We also recently started a social skills group where we get together and go out into the community to work on social skills.”

On the CTBS Facebook page, owner Kristin Tindell posted about the event.

“Today three of our kids competed in their very first horse show and did an AMAZING job! We are so proud of Shane, Morgan and Zoe, and we look forward to what the future holds for this program. Thank you to Anna Feller, Nick Feller, Jessie Alexander, Stephanie Baker, our parents, and all the kids that helped get the horses ready this week. Thank you also to MidTex Quarter Horse Association for seeing our potential and backing our dream! These smiles say it all!”

The three kids participating in the event were, Shane Hudman, 11, from Harker Heights; Zoe Carter, 10, of Killeen; and Morgan Grandalski, 14, also of Harker Heights.

If you would like more information about the Equine Assisted ABA program, call Central Texas Behavioral Solutions at (254) 760-0494.