Hippotherapy and Adaptive Riding with Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center
I have asked Ford’s therapists, Kelsie McGladrey and Christina Reyer to join me to discuss what therapies we should be doing with our kids and to talk in depth about hippotherapy- physical, occupational and speech therapy that utilizes the natural gait and movement of a horse to provide motor and sensory input. The benefits of hippotherapy include the physical benefits of strengthening muscles, preventing bone weakness and joint dislocation, improving balance and enhancing hand-eye coordination.
Is there a rider that is too medically complex for hippotherapy or are there adaptations that can be made?
Every kid and adult is evaluated for the program, looking at the needs and the type of therapy. We look at each case for precautions to find out whether hippotherapy is the best and safest option for reaching goals. Our goal is to find a therapy that works for each body and what’s medically appropriate.
What is the ideal age for someone to start hippotherapy?
For hippotherapy, you have to be at least two years old.
What changes have you seen in Ford from when he started riding a year ago?
When we met Ford, he was a little over three years old and his legs were so tight that we could barely get him on a horse. It was hard for him to be on the horse and he wasn’t able to sit up himself on or off the horse. Within the first few sessions, his legs relaxed so much and he needed less and less help. Because he was able to engage his core, relax his legs and relax his hips and sit up, we were able to start playing games and working on hand control and interaction. His confidence and his endurance has grown so much too.
How is the gait of the horse beneficial in hippotherapy?
The muscles we use is one part, but also the message the brain gets about what normal movement is when the horse is moving in three dimensions- forward and backward, side to side and rotating. The pelvis of the horse, rotated down has a similar movement to the gait we do when we’re walking. A horse walks 1800-2000 steps in a 30 minute session, which is a ton of repetition that a person has to react to in a short amount of time.
How can the community support Little Bit?
We have a giving tree online of how people can donate or help. We always appreciate the support. We are volunteer-supported and need volunteers for horse care, barn care, in sessions, office support and cleaning.
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