Horses- not hippos…
Hippotherapy is therapeutic horse riding where by the motion of the horse represents the sensory and motor output of the hip.
Charlie has had the opportunity to be Woody today (although don’t mention that to him- the therapist did- Charlie shouted ‘I’m not Woody cos this is Dylan- not Bullseye!’), he got to ride Dylan the pony for 20 minutes at Caistor Equestrian Centre.
As Charlie’s posture and core (tummy/back) muscles are not particularly strong and his dynamic balance is poor it is a great fun way of developing his strength.
Dylan, the pony, had a super temperament and although Charlie was a bit frightened to begin with (and his muscle tone high as a result), he soon settled on to his back and shouted ‘yee-ha’- frightening Dylan (way to get your own back Charlie). Charlie had to grip the saddle with his legs AND the reins in his hands- multitasking is extremely hard for CP kids- but quickly he managed even to learn how to pull to stop and pull left or right to turn.
After 20 minutes he had learned to balance beautifully, letting go of the saddle to hold his knees, even stretching his arms out like a plane. Visibly tired of in-and-out and up-and-down Charlie announced he was ready to get off.
The staff were great, very accommodating and friendly and they encouraged Charlie to come exercise Dylan again soon. Excited Charlie said he would love to come ride ‘his pony Dylan’ another day.
As the horse moves up and down the somatosensory information Charlie received enabled his body to make lots of little corrective movement to help remain upright. Developing Charlie’s core muscle strength and coordination will undoubtedly help his walking mission. As anyone knows who has tried riding it isn’t just CP kids that feel this benefit- thighs and bums can ache for days afterward!
As we went home Charlie decided we should call at the ‘dirty pub’ for tea. Ok Charlie, if you insist…