Our son John just turned 38 years old and much of the progress he has experienced is due to his 15 plus year involvement with Helping Horse. John has a dual diagnosis. One of his diagnosis is within the autism spectrum which presents severe problems with being touched, eye contact, balance, being in groups of people, following multi-step instructions – the list goes on and on. We are so grateful for the opportunity John has had to be in this therapeutic riding program. Over the years we have seen continuous growth in John sticking with instructions, being willing to try things that made him uncomfortable and actually enjoying himself.
It is extremely humbling to owe so much to so many loyal volunteer instructors.
When our daughter, Tori, was born, we were told she would never walk independently. For the first few years of her life, she spent a lot of time with physical therapists. Eventually, she was able to walk, using a walker equipped with vertical support poles. However, she was still having trouble developing pelvic stability. That’s when we heard about Helping Horse’s therapeutic riding program and the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding. A horse’s gait is similar to that of a walking person. Riders use the same muscles and bones on the horse, as they would walking independently. Tori started in the program, in September, 2000, (one month after her 4th birthday), and by mid-December, she was walking independently- no walker needed! Helping Horse’s riding program helped her first develop pelvic stability; then, torso strength and control; and then, balance. It has helped to increase her hand-eye coordination, turn-taking abilities, and the ability to follow directions. She loves the social environment the classes provide. Riding is her favorite activity, and she will start her 14th season in the program, this September.
Helping Horse is a non-profit and runs on volunteer power- and they are simply the best volunteers around. They all have what our family calls the 4 C’s: commitment, care, compassion and concern for the riders and the program. Without them- without their selflessness and dedication- Tori may not have learned to walk on her own. Our family is eternally grateful to the wonderful folks at Helping Horse, for granting Tori an independence she might not otherwise have achieved. We love all the folks at Helping Horse!
Our daughter Kate’s physical therapist strongly recommended a therapeutic riding program after her traumatic brain injury.
Kate will tell you her spine “was like a wet noodle” during her first lesson. But we saw her strength return so quickly that we drove her out twice a week until life got too hectic.
That was in 1997. Kate still uses a walker, but she looks forward to Helping Horse as much now as she did 17 years ago. She loves the instructors and side walkers and has given hugs to quite a few horses over the years. Thank you Helping Horse!
Ethan was extremely nervous about his first evaluation ride; I actually didn’t think he would get on, but after some time he did. He’s had a few lessons now and last Saturday he said “I can’t wait to ride & see the horses today!”. He’s got a lot of anxiety & sensory processing issues that affect fine motor, gross motor, his energy level, frustration capacity, and almost everything involved with pushing through life’s daily challenges. After the Saturday rides he’s quite tired but he loves giving the horses commands, listening to his teacher Jim, and really looks forward to the sessions. We are really glad he’s embraced this experience in a way that we didn’t expect. Thank you!
Our 16 year old son, Christopher, has been riding with Helping Horse since 2008. Up to that point, there weren’t any physical activities he enjoyed doing. We were so excited to see him doing an activity that he enjoyed & looked forward to each week! We love how they incorporate activities in the riding program that address the goals we’re working on with him both at home and at school. The lessons have helped Christopher with skills such as communication, turn-taking and following directions. The benefits have been physical as well since riding develops balance, muscle control & strength.
As a non-profit, the success of Helping Horse relies on the dedication of caring volunteers, and Helping Horse has the best! We could not be happier with the program, and are so appreciative of the many wonderful volunteers who serve as side walkers, horse leaders & instructors who make this program possible!