Friday, April 22, 2011

Horseback Riding aka Hippotherapy is a Big Time Hit!

This past weekend, Strawberry Fields Ranch in Cortland, NY held a fundraiser encouraging individuals with disabilities to come out and enjoy Hippotherapy. The American Hippotherapy Association Inc. (AHA, Inc.) promotes the use of the movement of the horse as a treatment strategy in physical, occupational and speech-language therapy sessions for people living with disabilities. Hippotherapy has been shown to improve muscle tone, balance, posture, coordination, motor development as well as emotional well-being. For only $10 Junior and I attended the event in which we played some barn games, made some arts and crafts, enjoyed some snacks, and Junior spent about 45 minutes riding horses!

Junior has never experienced anything like he did at Strawberry Fields and he absolutely loved it. We played kickball in the barn, ran some relay races, made a sign for his room and then things really took off when he was able to ride two different horses. Junior enjoyed playing with his peers and doing something he has never done before. He claimed he was "a little scared" as he was quickly jumping on the horse but seconds later he was saying how he wanted to go fast! Junior learned some terms to control the two horses Max and Danny such as a clicking sound from the mouth to signal "go" and saying "woah" to signal "stop!" Junior was able to pet the horses, feed them carrots and he even gave them some hugs and kisses. As you can tell from the pictures, Junior had an absolute blast. His love for animals truly shows and all the students who got on the horses proved how beneficial hippotherapy is.

In the future, I strongly recommend for other mentors to bring their mentee's to the program. The staff at Strawberry Fields absolutely loved how the day went and they mentioned that they wouldn't mind doing something like this twice a year!

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