This week, we finally found time to start horseback riding therapy with Ian. We went to Helping Hands Healing Hooves to see what it was about and have Ian try riding a horse. Everyone there was really nice, and eager to get to know Ian and what we wanted out of riding therapy. Ian has very low tone throughout his body, and also very little core strength, so we hope that riding will improve his balance and help build those core muscles that he is lacking. Since he has scoliosis and a dislocated hip, I had to OK his riding therapy with his orthopedic doctor, as well as his pediatrician.
Once Ian was introduced to all the humans that would be helping us, they brought out the horse that he would be riding - Whisper. They said she was their most laid back horse - perfect for first timers. They encourage all the kids to help with the horses, so they told Ian they would like him to brush Whisper before putting the saddle on her. He refused at first, and for a second I was worried that he was going to shut this all down before it even started, but once he saw the brush and what they wanted him to do, he was willing to give it a try.
He brushed Whispers belly and her front legs.
Then, he got fitted for a helmet, and went up a ramp to a raised platform where he was lifted onto Whisper. They put a little bar under the saddle for him to hold on to, and someone stood on either side of him to hold him and keep him steady on the horse. We walked out of the barn and onto a dirt course where they had Ian practice telling Whisper "go". They walked him all around the course - over little rails and through cones.
One of his favorite parts was putting rings onto a pole, which really required him to work at keeping his balance, since he had to let go of the handle to hold the rings.
Afterward, he was all smiles.
Safely back in his wheelchair, he got to feed Whisper treats and pet her nose before saying goodbye. He said that he liked riding and, yes, wanted to do it again. I was so proud of him for being brave and trying something new.