ISHPEMING — Friday marks the beginning of Autism Awareness Month. We’ll be providing some insight throughout the next few weeks about services that are available for those who have autism.

Heritage Hills Horseback Riding opened about seven years ago, and began giving therapy sessions two years ago. Three and soon to be four employees are certified through the Equine Assisted Guidance and Learning Association model.

“Our sessions require a mental health specialist, an equine specialist, and of course the horses,” said Heritage Hills Horseback Riding Owner Joni Gleason, “sometimes we’ll use one, sometimes we’ll use a couple. We have a wide range of horses that we use.”

Sometimes mini donkeys are use as well for individuals that might be intimidated by the horses. Horses have been used for a variety of therapeutic reasons, and are significantly effective for many people with autism.

“Horse are very sensitive to emotions and feelings of a person. They basically can mirror a person and help them maybe balance an issue out. Just being around them, working around them, it is known to calm people, especially autism from what I understand, it’s the calming of the atmosphere. There’s not a ton of noises coming at these people that are sensitive to those type of outside interactions. So it can kind of level them out.”

To learn more about Heritage Hills Horseback Riding and the positive impact it can have for individuals with autism, click here.