Confidence and Joy: Hippotherapy Goes Beyond Physical Benefits

Nov 21, 2018 | Article, News

Meet Ethan.

Written by Shelby Keller

When Ethan began riding at Shining Hope Farms, he was two and a half years old but not yet walking. He has a medical condition that affects his balance, coordination, muscle tone, and fine motor skills, among other things. But shortly after starting occupational therapy (utilizing the hippotherapy treatment strategy) with us, he started learning how to put one foot in front of the other and began walking with a walker!

Ethan’s first therapy session at Shining Hope Farms.

Walking with his walker at the Mt. Holly farm.

That was nearly eight years ago. Now, as a spunky 10 year old, Ethan still rides with us twice a week. His therapist Ellen says he is “an extremely hard worker and is always willing to try new and challenging exercises.”

When not riding, Ethan enjoys reading, riding his bike, drinking hot chocolate and playing in the snow

One recent challenge Ethan has risen to is creating his own obstacle course. This helps develop his executive functioning skills—aka his ability to plan and coordinate something in his head and act on it. Skills like these come in handy for nearly every decision, including just getting dressed in the morning.

During one of his occupational therapy sessions.

Hippotherapy has given Ethan not just physical benefits like improved core strength, balance, and the ability to walk with a walker, but it has also given him immense emotional benefits as his independence and confidence have grown. “Despite his challenges … Ethan remains the most positive kid I’ve worked with in a long time,” Ellen said.

When not riding, Ethan enjoys reading, riding his bike, drinking hot chocolate and playing in the snow.

Ethan has spent the majority of his days in different therapies for his entire life, so “to have a therapy that’s fun and doesn’t feel like therapy has a huge impact [on him],” Ethan’s mom Terre told us. One fun thing Ethan loves to do as part of his therapy is trail ride through our woods.

As for the future, Terre said she hopes Ethan will continue to improve to the point of one day being able to walk without assistance from his walker. We hope so too!

Would you consider giving $24 to feed one of the gentle giants who helps our clients. $24 will feed one of our therapy horses for one week! Our goal for this #GivingTuesdayCLT (TODAY, November 27!) is to feed all of our therapy horses for year so that children like Ethan can continue receiving their amazing benefits (the majority, with no out of pocket costs to their family)? 

Click Here to Feed a Therapy Horse


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