Emily Murray, 15 of Cumming Georgia, competed in the Special Olympics State Horse Show from Oct 19 to 21 at Chicopee Agriculture Center in Gainesville GA. “I won 2 gold medals for Showmanship and English Equitation and one silver in Dressage,” rider Emily Murray says. Emily is on the Autism Spectrum. This was her third year competing in the Special Olympics. In the past, she has been honored twice by Governor Nathan Deal for being a top equestrian rider in the State of Georgia.
Therapy for Autism
Emily struggles with social interaction and coordination, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Therapy for teens on the spectrum includes speech, occupation and cognitive therapy. “Emily was not making much progress with these therapies,” says Emily’s dad Paul. “We researched other types of therapies and tried therapeutic horseback riding since Emily has an intense focus on animals.” Therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity. This therapy contributes positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs.
Therapeutic Horseback Riding Lessons
Emily rides each week at Iron Horse Therapy and has developed a bond for the horses. A typical session includes her putting all the riding equipment on the horse, a 30-minute lesson and afterward grooming, feeding, and taking the horse to the pasture.
“Emily has flourished in the equine therapy program,” said Paul. “ Not only is my daughter learning the skill of horseback riding, but she has also grown with her confidence, social skills and has opened up in her personality in the short 3 years she has been riding at Iron Horse.” Emily has already begun training for the 2019 State Special Olympics Horse Show.