Thursday, August 30, 2012


We have recently began hippotherapy at Connections Therapeutic Riding Center. Both my son and daughter are attending an hour session per week. Last week, was their first time, and my son loved it. I think my daughter loved it too, but she had several meltdowns trying to exert her will. The therapists were very calm and patient with her, but required her to calm her emotions. She was able to do that with their direction. They were both completely exhausted that night and the next day. This is apparently the "detox" portion after a new experience that is both physically and emotionally draining. This week they both did even better. Luke was tired about halfway through, but he pushed through his wall.

I have already had a lot of people ask me what hippotherapy is. The facility that we attend describes it this way:

"Hippotherapy has been shown to be one of the most efficient and effective treatments used to improve posture, balance, mobility, and function in patients with motor disorders.

In hippotherapy, a specially trained physical or occupational therapist properly positions the patient on the horse, analyzes the patient's response and directs the horse's movement to achieve specific patient treatment goals. The horse is used as a unique treatment modality in conjunction with traditional therapies. As the horse walks, its center of gravity is displaced three-dimensionally with back and forth, up and down, side to side, and rotational movements. The horse's movement has a therapeutic effect on the patient with a precise, repetitive pattern of movement very similar to the movement of a person's pelvis during normal walking. Additionally, the movement of the horse produces sensory input to the brain and the nervous system of the patient.

Major aims of hippotherapy include mobilization of the pelvis, lumbar spine and hip joints, normalization of muscle tone, development of head and trunk postural control and development of equilibrium reactions in the trunk. In fact, improvement in postural control and trunk equilibrium reactions can be achieved more easily on the horse than in the clinic. The horse's rhythmical movements transmit symmetrical sensory input to the patient in a way that cannot be imitated by a mechanical apparatus or with any degree of consistency in the traditional occupational and physical therapy clinic. Therefore, hippotherapy offers an alternative and valuable adjunct to more conventional treatment modalities."

There is something about the horse that I saw visibly allowed Luke to let go of his anxiety. It was the neatest thing to watch. He still had a tendency to be anxious at times when they wanted him to do something out of his comfort zone, but he tried things he would have never tried before. He is connecting with the horses, and I can't wait to see what this will bring about in his development. Lydia is already being pushed to use her words in a sentence. She does not have a ton of words, but they are getting them out of her. As much as she would like to protest, she loves it. I will update you all on their progress soon.

Until next time,

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