A boy and his horse

The day after we got back from Kade’s wish trip we added another appointment to our otherwise vacant hectic schedule.  With the assitance of a friend of ours Kade was accepted to a facility that uses horses to assist kids with special needs.  Typically activities like this are classified as Hippotherapy, but this facility does not have a PT or OT on staff.  We were excited to start because the act of riding a horse puts your body through the same motions as if you are walking.  Since, Kade does not walk we thought it would be good for his body to experience the activity.

Once Kade started his session on the horse Annette and I had a introduction session with one of the ladies in charge.  She explained the purpose of their group and what they try to address during their sessions.  She said that if the child has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) they would address items in the IEP.  She said that a large number of the kids that go there end up needing to get their IEP redone because they are able to address so many items with the horses, not to say that Kade would blaze through his IEP items but still.  She told us a few stories of a few other kids that they have helped via the horses and the stories are amazing, one of which was a story about one of my cousins that goes to this facility.  She explained that the connection between horses and special needs kids is not completely understood, but something magical happens between the two.  We were excited for Kade to get started.

Since this was his first session Kade was lucky enough to have his PT and OT volunteer to come and make sure the workers were addressing, supporting, and not babying him, thats right NOT babying him.  They wanted to make sure that his head would be supported but not given too much support as to keep him from feeling the movement of the horse.  So they started, Kade has his soft collar on and his benik vest.  He started out riding with his PT and was sitting on the horse, but they became concerned that his legs were spread too wide.  They readjusted him and put his side saddle for several laps around the ring.  They tried a few other positions and we could see a difference with him right away, his eyes were OPEN.  Each time around the ring we could see that he had his eyes open and was taking in the sights and sounds.  While he was riding there were 2 or 3 other kids that were riding and there were 2 little boys getting lessons on how to take care of horses.  Each time Kade passed the 2 boys he would shift his gaze and LOOK right at the boys and listen to them.  One of the positions they put Kade in was on his back with his head resting on the rear hips of the horse.  His PT and OT were very please with how Kade was able to manage his head and not let it flop from side to side as the horse walked around the ring.  He was showing more head control than he had in weeks, there was an outside force making his head move back and forth and he was able to slow it down.

When his session was over he was so relaxed you could have poured him into his carseat.  The folks there told us that most kids are VERY relaxed after their sessions and their muscles are very loose for the rest of the evening.  Kade seemed to really enjoy his time with the horse.  When we were wrapping up his session Kade’s buddy Jackson showed up and was getting ready to start his session.