It was Hanna Roberts’ first year at Carroll. As an anthrozoology major, she was volunteering in the equine therapy program at a local therapeutic youth home. One of her young clients was on the autism spectrum and didn’t like water or getting wet, which made bathing a challenge for the child’s parents. So, working closely with her supervisor, Hanna helped develop an idea to desensitize her client to triggers like getting dirty and wet. She told the youth that, on that day, they were going to give one of the horses a bath.
The client looked at us with wide eyes, a huge smile, grabbed the hose and bathed the horse like it was the best job in the entire world— jumping in puddles and getting completely soaked. By the end of the session we were all smiling from ear to ear.
This is a moment that has followed me throughout the years because it shows just how powerful horses can be in therapy. My experiences as an anthrozoology student at Carroll have motivated me to seek the answers to my own questions through research in an attempt to quantify the enigmatic benefits of animal therapy and the human-animal bond.
Find out more about Carroll College's Anthrozoology program.