Friday, May 29, 2009

Horse Therapy

We've been looking at therapeutic riding and hippotherapy programs (i.e., horse therapy) for Emma for the past couple of months as a fun way for Emma to work on getting better neck and trunk control.  We discussed starting this therapy with Emma's doctors and they all agreed that Emma could benefit tremendously from a program and so we set out to find a program that fits our family style.  We were lucky to have several programs in our area to choose from and found one that fits us perfectly! 

The initial goals we set with our therapeutic riding team are:
1.)  Improve Emma's neck control - have Emma hold her head up mid-line for extended periods of time
2.)  Improve Emma's trunk control - have Emma ride the horse in various positions
3.)  Improve Emma's vocalization - have Emma *talk* to the horse to get him to move

We expect that these goals will take a while to achieve and that Emma will be riding horses long into the future with the first therapy session starting today.  I was so excited for Emma to start a "fun" therapy and thought Emma would be equally as excited to ride a horse.  After all, Emma loves Finnegan, our 90+ lb. labrador retriever that she often straddles like a horse so I thought she would be thrilled to take a spin on Dunkin the pony.  Boy was I wrong!  

Although Emma was all smiles while in the stroller looking up at Dunkin, once we put Emma on him she started to scream and throw her back into an arch to try and get out of the activity.  I wasn't sure if she was screaming because she was scared of the horse or that her 4 person entourage were strangers to her with Mommy looking from the sidelines, but I quickly gathered that it was pure temper.  There wasn't a tear in her eyes for the entire session even though she screamed for 99.9% of it!  The director of the program told me that many children cry in the beginning and that after several weeks they start to look forward to the riding lessons.  I'm pretty sure Emma will come around to finding it fun and I hope it's soon since she will be riding every Friday evening for the foreseeable future.  I just won't tell her that Julia offered to ride Dunkin for Emma since she never cries when on a pony.......I have a feeling she'll be asking for riding lessons alongside Emma really soon.

Here is a short video of Emma riding inside the stables (before her screaming really started in full swing) before we went outside for some fresh air.  Even being outside didn't slow Emma's screaming down, which just amazed me since she is usually all smiles when outdoors.  It did result in a very quiet ride home since she promptly fell asleep from all the exertion screaming.  Let's hope that helps her sleep through until the morning! 

1 Comments from readers:

The Calm The Storm said...

This is awesome! What a great idea. I hope she grows to enjoy it :o)