Colorado State University professor Temple Grandin has long been celebrated as one of the world’s leading authorities on the subjects of animal welfare and autism, so it’s only natural that the new CSU Spur campus at the National Western Center features a facility for equine assisted services bearing her name. The newly-completed Temple Grandin Equine Center offers adaptive horsemanship and equine assisted therapy to improve the physical, mental, and emotional health for people of all ages. A similar center opened on the Fort Collins campus in February.
Director Adam Daurio says the equine assisted therapy sessions, which can involve horseback riding or just being near the horses, are used to treat people suffering from the effects of a stroke, PTSD, autism, cerebral palsy, dementia, and more. Even children as young as 18 months old can benefit. “If young children haven’t learned to crawl, we can put them on their hands and knees on a bareback pad on a horse and as the horse walks, it mimics the movement of crawling and helps stimulate the child’s neurons to learn to crawl.”
Grandin, who has said that horses saved her life as she navigated autism as a teenager, served as a sensory consultant in the design of the state-of-the-art facility. “She provided input on color schemes and design, on lighting, and the awareness of sounds coming from appliances and utilities,” said Daurio. Grandin is renowned for designing facilities that reduce stress for animals.
Visitors to the equine center will be able to watch therapy sessions in action. Daurio says one of the main goals of having the center in Denver is to educate an urban population about the connections between animal and human health. Eventually 15 therapy horses will live onsite, aiding in some 150-200 sessions per week.
Temple Grandin herself will be at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the official opening of the equine center on January 7. Visitors to the stock show will also have the chance to meet her two weeks later on January 20 when the center hosts an adaptive rodeo for youth with special needs.