Sunday, November 1, 2009

Riding “Hippo’s”

Cole on Smokey
Cole is riding hippo’s for HIPPOTHERAPY!
“Hippo” meaning horse from the Greek language. This is a form of therapy that uses the movement of the horse to aid in physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
Our days of auquatherapy have come to an end due to insurance. It is so true that when one door closes another door opens. We will miss our fun water ‘play’ but it was an awesome experience watching Cole on top of Smokey.
We were lucky enough to find this facility, Coffee Creek Riding Center, a member of the North American Riding for the Handicapped (NARHA), that offers this once the child reaches age 2 1/2. We went in for an assessment to see what will be required for Cole (and what he can do for himself…if he could even stay up on the horse).
Our first step (after the paperwork, of course) was to introduce Cole to the horse. Originally we got to meet Dusty and got to brush Dusty’s mane. Some of the brushes we used, Cole had a hard time hanging onto, but he finally got the idea and grabbed on to the brush.
Cole playing games!
As Cole sat on Smokey the team would guide the horse to walk to different centers. At each center there was a flat circle of a different color and a snap together plastic ‘bead’ of that same color. They would hold the circle up and Cole would have to hold the bead and place it on the circle. Another game they played was to put a small toy inside a box. One of his favorite games was shooting (or dropping) a ball inside a big net. Cole liked this one and he would try to eat the ball.
090925-142052 Cole shooting a football into the net.
At the end of his session Cole had a race with another little boy, playing ‘Ready, Set, Go’ and again with ‘Red Light, Green Light’ and each child won once.
Cole had a great time riding the horse and didn’t realize he was ‘working’.
Our normal schedule will have Cole riding every other Friday, unless there’s a holiday. I wanted to see the difference in his first time to ride and the next, if there was one. I had previously written about Cole wearing Theratogs. These really help with him using his core, reminding him to use those muscles. Unfortunately on our first visit he apparently didn’t want to wear them as he did the typical ‘boy’ thing and peed on them as I was getting him dressed for school that day.
On his first ride he was pretty “floppy” so they wrapped a support belt around his waist that helped a little. On our second visit I made sure I changed him faster that morning so he had his Theratogs and the support belt for that ride. I could see a noticeable difference in his posture.
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Cole got to ride Opie for his second visit. We did the same routine of brushing and petting Opie as we did for Smokey on our first visit. In the pictures above Cole is meeting Opie and then placing something inside a small green cube. Below he is placing a yellow plastic bead on a yellow square and another learning activity.
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Cole is loving riding “hippos”! Unfortunately we don’t have the space (or the training) for hippotherapy or just riding (keeping) a horse at home, but he loves our version at home too.
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  1. Yaay, Cole!! That really looks like a lot of fun, I'm so happy you found them! I'll have to look into what's available up here!

  2. His hair is so long! OH my gosh!
    I love the hippo pictures...and I love you guys. xoxo

  3. Man, he's a cutie!! This is wonderful.

  4. Outstanding! Hippotherapy is great! He did well!


  5. I have heard that this is great therapy!

  6. How wonderful! My daughter does therapeutic riding and loves it. Makes me want to get back up on a horse too (but that might be scary--for me and the horse)

  7. Stumbled on your blog while surfing...

    We have the same rocking pony at home! Our son Connor loves the thing, though it's starting to be hard to get him in and out of it. We were doing theraputic riding for a while and hopefully will be able to get back into it soon!


  8. Just thinking of you~

    Love this post and am so very happy for Cole that he has you!


  9. Awww...I love that you get to do the Horse (Hippo)Therapy for him!!

  10. We LOVE hippotherapy. It has been the most amazing therapy. Our Ethan's strength has increased incredibly, and he is verbalizing more now too! But most of all it makes him HAPPY and it looks like it makes Cole happy too!

  11. I'm here courtesy of Mrs4444's gratitude giveaway requirement - meet someone new :)

    I chose your blog because it looked like you might be a 'special' family.

    I was a special ed teacher for several years at a school for orthopedically and multi-handicapped kindergarteners. Cerebral palsy was a common diagnosis. We had such terrific kids!!!

    Several years after we moved (and I retired), we were blessed with a surprise third baby. Jeffrey was beautiful... and diagnosed at 8 weeks with a severe case of the deadliest form of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). He earned his official wings at 5-1/2 months.

    Cole is a beautiful little guy, and I love the video of the Dynavox! A lot of SMA families use that, too.

    I wish I had more time to snoop around on blogs, as I know there are many excellent ones out there! Since I'm not overloaded with spare minutes, I'm glad I checked out Mrs4444's post, asking us to meet someone new.

    I hope you have a chance to come over to the Suite sometime! I write the blog with Cindy Schaefer, good friend/fellow SMA mom (her son, Kevin is a rising junior in high school).

    Helen ('Lucy')

  12. Who is the treating therapist for Cole? Hippotherapy is provided by speech, occupational and physical therapists. Is there a reason that Cole was unable to wear a helmet? That is a NARHA safety standard. Hippotherapy can do great things for children and adults with special needs. Perhaps Cole will graduate to a therapeutic riding program when he is older.