Mimi Bennett’s and Alicia Allen’s first- and second-graders are studying living and nonliving things in their science classes at Rollins Place Elementary School in Zachary.

In social studies, the special-needs youth are learning about different cultures in Louisiana.

“Nonliving things include soil, water, air, light and stuffed animals,” Bennett said, “and living things are plants and animals, such as horses.”

To tie the units together, the teachers took their students on a field trip March 13 to BREC’s Farr Park Equestrian Center so they could experience a little bit of both.

“At the park, they rode horses and were treated to a barn tour to learn even more about the horses,” Bennett said. “The children learned they shouldn’t run around the horses or walk behind them; they learned the parts of the saddle and the proper way to mount a horse.”

According to the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, formerly called North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, therapeutic horseback riding uses equine-assisted activities for the purpose of contributing positively to cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of people with disabilities or special needs.

Riding provides benefits in the areas of health, education, sports, recreation and leisure, and thousands of individuals with special needs experience the rewarding benefits of horseback riding, according to the organization.

“Experiencing the motion of a horse can be very therapeutic. Riding a horse rhythmically moves the rider’s body similar to a human gait, and riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength,” Bennett said. “Horseback riding can also provide recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors.”