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core2When reviewing medical information, we always look to see if the child is verbal or not. If it says non, then the first question to the parents is, “Does your child make noises?” If the answer is “yes”, we will ask the child to make a sound to indicate a command to the horse.

Turning Sounds into Words
For example, once the child is on the horse in the mounting area, the command “walk on” is needed before the horse moves out of this area.

  • If the child is nonverbal but can make sounds, we ask for a “wa” sound from the child.
  • To assist, they may also “tap” the horse just in front of the saddle as a visual task. Both are recognized by the instructor as a response from the riders.
  • Eventually, the “wa” will turn into “wa-ka” and then “wa-ka on” and after time will turn into “walk on”.

If they are standing still and want to move, the tap and “wa ka” become independent commands of the riders that alert the instructor of their wishes.

The second word asked for is usually “whoa” as it is an easy sound with very effective physical results from the horse. The riders learn quickly the power of “walk on” and “whoa”.

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Sue Adams
Sue holds a BS in Education from Monmouth University. In 1993, Sue became a PATH International instructor and is now a PATH Advanced Instructor. Sue is the Chairperson of the PATH Certification Subcommittee, a PATH Accreditation visitor, Certification Workshop Faculty Member and Evaluator. Sue is the past president of Horseback Riding for the Handicapped of NJ and a private consultant for equine activities and programs. In her spare time, Sue enjoys trail riding, competing in Versatility and Hunter Pacer events with her husband, and walking the beach and boardwalk. Visit Hearts Therapeutic Riding Center.