NDSU’s Bison Strides provides innovative education, research and outreach
FARGO – Bison Strides partners horses and humans to benefit the mind, body and spirit of people with physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral challenges.
The program was founded in 2017 and operates out of the department of animal science at NDSU. Undergraduate students minoring in equine assisted services engage in high impact experiential teaching, learning and service opportunities.
“I have seen first-hand how the therapeutic power of the horse can impact participants and how much each participant grows in their independence, communication, and many more skills each session,” said Rylee Kraft, NDSU nursing student minoring in equine assisted activities and therapies. “I will be able to apply this experience in my nursing career by being an advocate for everyone's individual needs. Bison Strides is an extraordinary experience and I feel honored to be a part of the program for the past three years helping individuals reach their goals.”
As part of the program, Bison Strides coordinator Erika Berg conducts research on the impact of horse and human interactions on the people and animals involved.
“Students have the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research examining equine behavior,” said Berg. “These projects give us the chance to identify potential stressors for our horses, then make changes in handling or management that improves the horses’ well-being. Additionally, we have collaborated with faculty in health, nutrition, and exercise science to examine gait symmetry of Bison Strides participants before and after riding.”
Programs include adapted therapeutic horsemanship, equine assisted learning, military and veterans program, and physical and occupational therapy in cooperation with Beyond Boundaries Therapy Services.
Participants experience improved balance and gait symmetry, practice patience and mutual respect, gain greater social functioning and language development, increase confidence and self-esteem, build relationship and communication skills, as well as find peach and calm in their body and mind.
Registration is open for a six-week session running Oct. 24 to Nov. 30. The cost for a session is $300. Financial assistance is available.
Bison Strides is accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. NDSU is one of only 12 PATH higher education members in the United States.
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