The Impact of a Horse Riding Intervention on the Social Functioning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Jul 14;14(7):776. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14070776.


This paper reports a case-control study of a horse riding intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A sample of 26 children, aged 6 to 9 years, were assigned to either the intervention (n = 12) or control group conditions (n = 14). Pre- and post-tests were carried out using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, Second Edition (CARS2) and the Aberrant Behaviour Checklist-Community Edition (ABC-C). An observational measure of compliance and behaviour during the horse riding sessions was completed for the intervention group. There was a significant reduction in the severity of ASD symptoms and hyperactivity from pre- to post-test for the intervention group only. These results indicate that the intervention improves some aspects of social functioning for children with ASD.

Keywords: ASD; animal-assisted intervention; autism spectrum disorder; children; human-animal interaction; social functioning; therapeutic horse riding.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Equine-Assisted Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • Male
  • United Kingdom