If you are newer to reading my blog, you might not know about my oldest daughter Tacy. She has a low tone form of cerebral palsy and is also diagnosed with autism. A big part of my life is organizing and participating in her therapy, doctor appointments, and other services that she receives. It's amazing what sort of things we have been able to have Tacy involved in and without all that she has received, she would not be where she is today.
One of our favoritesis therapeutic horseback riding. This year, I became trained to be a side walker for disabled riders and have gotten to work right with Tacy. Tacy's PCA, Kristi, was also trained and is side walking with Tacy as well. We are lucky enough to be able to ride the summer andfall session this year. The riding benefits Tacy so much strength wise that I want to get her in the program as many times as I can during the year.
(she looks a little cranky in this picture, but it was about 90 degrees out last night when she rode... also, Tacy really just wants to GO when she's riding - enough with all this stopping business to take my picture...)
The only horse experience that I have ever had was just once or twice riding growing up and then watching Tacy ride the past several years so it's been great to learn so much more. Tacy rides a horse named Martin, who is a pretty laid back guy. It's exactly what Tacy needs because her main goal is balance. The walk of a horse mimics the walking movement of a person. Tacy's walking gait is unlike people with normal tone. It takes more work, she doesn't always use the same muscles, and she also has to wear braces to give her the support and strength that she needs. Riding Martin helps her work and strengthen the muscles that don't get worked with her adapted form of walking. We sometimes have her ride backwards on the horse because it helps her work on some more upper body strengthening and balance.
Last night, Tacy had a hard time with her balance and so our main focus was just riding and staying centered on the horse. We also try to work on holding the reins, learning how to verbally tell the horse to go and stop (this is the first year that Tacy is able to make a "kiss" sound to tell Martin to go), learning how to steer, playing games with the other riders (there are up to 4 riders in the ring at a time), and doing other therapy exercises while on the horse.
It was also hot out last night and so we had to stop for a drink of water.
Chad and Hana keep busy while watching Tacy ride. Hana took this picture of Chad holding a "letter" that Tacy delivered to him (one of the games they get to play.)
Hana did a dramatic dance with the letters... She wants to learn to ride as well, so I am looking into some regular programs for her to start in a couple years.
We are waiting for our turn to bring Martin into the barn at the end. It was hot, we are all hot, but we love it and we will be back next week!