Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Parker, Julie C.

Committee Member

Downey, Laura Hall

Committee Member

Elmore-Staton, Lori D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Human Development and Family Studies

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


This mixed-methods study examined the effects of participation in a 10-week therapeutic horseback riding program on communicative behaviors in participants diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder or Down syndrome. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors utilized the Naples Equestrian Challenge Participant Initial Evaluation to complete a pre-evaluation prior to the first riding session and a post-evaluation during the last session. Following the post-evaluation, the researcher collected qualitative data through conducting parent interviews. The study included 16 participants (M = 12.62; age range 5-23 years old, 8 females and 8 males). Change scores for each participant were calculated and an aggregated mean for pre- and post-evaluations were determined and results indicated increases in all seven communication indicators. Analysis of parent interviews also revealed improvements in communicative skills and behaviors. Overall, results indicate improvements in communication for children and adolescents with developmental disability and the need to further investigate therapeutic horseback riding as an efficacious therapy.



therapeutic horseback riding||developmental disorders||intervention||communication