A “Sensory Boards” is basically a board on which you attach tactile and visual objects to be explored. Sensory boards are often used for babies and young children to encourage stimulation of the senses and exploration through sensory play, a natural part of child development. They are also used in Occupational Therapy for helping children with Sensory Processing Disorders to integrate information and to foster appropriate responses. The Therapeutic Riding Instructor can use sensory boards for similar reasons, incorporating aspects of the barn and horse environment.
1) Determine the materials you want to use.
Choose materials based on your riders’ needs. Consider textures and toys they prefer, ones they may not like, as well as things you would find at the barn and that are related to horses.
- Cotton leg wraps
- Horse hoof peel
- Horse shoe
- Faux fur
- Mane/Tail hair
- Leather strap
- Curry Comb
2) Determine what kind of sensory board to make.
This depends on your barn set up and resources. Here are some ideas:
- One big board
- In Wipe Lids
- Quilt style
- Hanging boards
- With descriptions
- On coasters from a craft supply store. Put in a box, attach to a board, use as magnets, etc.
- Include pictures of where each item is found or what it is used for. Make them magnetic or velcro to match with the texture.
3) Make it!
- Collect tactile items and attach them to the board/s, making sure they are safe and secure
These are the sensory boards used by Susie Bjorkland of Freedom Farm in Minnesota, who has kindly sent me these pictures. She can hang them around her arena and be switch them out for different activities. An example of them in use is with the 6 Stations Activity.
Do you have sensory boards at your barn? If so, I’d love to add your pictures to this post!
Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement!