Sometimes helpful knowledge comes from places one may least expect. That is one of many messages given in the 2009 documentary “The Horse Boy.”
The film captures the journey told in a book of the same name and will be screened in two locations this Saturday. The first is at 3 p.m. at Senior Coastsiders then again at 7:30 p.m. at the Half Moon Bay Odd Fellows Hall.
The story revolves around Rowan Isaacson, a 5-year-old boy from Texas who was diagnosed with autism. As his father and mother attempted to find information and treatment on autism, Isaacson grew distant from his parents. Problems, stress and a frustrating lack of knowledge arose.
But one day, the boy became fixated with horses. Their presence calmed him and helped him become more sociable with his family. So, his parents made
a bold decision. They traveled with
their son to rural Mongolia, a place
where horses were seemingly everywhere and an alternative treatment might be found.
The film follows two determined parents who literally traveled around the world to give their child some solace. Directed by Michel Orion Scott, the film touches on emotional strength, strong family ties and acceptance.
Joell Dunlap, the co-founder of the Square Peg Foundation in Half Moon Bay, will be leading a discussion after the film. She knows firsthand the impact horses can have on autistic children. Dunlap knows the Isaacson family well and has traveled around the world extensively with Rowan’s father, Rupert, teaching about the impact horses can have on children’s lives.
Square Peg connects former racehorses with youth facing many diagnoses, from autism and Down’s syndrome, to attention deficit disorders and anger management issues. Dunlap explained that aside from the notion of riding a horse and the empowerment that may bring, there is data to back up why horses make humans feel a certain way.
“The low resonance of the heart rate and the size of the heart actually helps down-regulate people’s heart rates, so they start to be less anxious,” Dunlap said. “Which is pretty fascinating, wild stuff. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen some of the studies around it.”