Our therapeutic riding lessons help a rider to develop and experience strength, courage and freedom. These qualities are represented in the three feathers on the Horsefeathers logo. Horseback riding is a skill that is both physical and mental. It is a bond with a horse and the rider who work together along with a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor to reach a goal. The goal of learning to steer, for example, takes both the physical ability to hold the reins correctly, as well as the mental focus to look where you want your horse to go. Reaching this goal gives the rider the courage to keep trying, the freedom of movement, and builds strength by requiring the rider to maintain upright balance and carry the weight of his/her own arms.
About fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with Post Polio Syndrome meaning overworked muscles were weakening and weak muscles were getting weaker if not ceasing to function altogether. While my posture was never “normal” my core muscles were no longer capable of holding me upright. Ambulation was becoming restricted, and today depending distance, I use a crutch, walker or wheelchair.
"My daughter, Dominique, is 17 years old and has been diagnosed with autism. Horseback riding at Horsefeathers has been a blessing in her life. Horseback riding has been the first activity she has been successful at performing. When given a diagnosis of autism, most daily activities and recreation are a challenge.
Melissa, who has been participating in Horsefeathers for over a year, has weekly ½ hour individualized riding lessons with her instructor, Kristi. The only special accommodation Melissa requires is a special platform to mount the horse, named Ice. Through Horsefeathers, she was able to participate in the Special Olympics last year, where she won a gold medal for horseback riding, which she proudly displays in her room. “I love all the people, they are all very nice to me,” states Melissa.
JOY! That is the feeling we immediately feel when we hear that name. Let me explain...
We first came to work with Nick Coyne back in 2002. Our daughter Rebecca can't balance enough to walk unassisted, and regular therapy was losing both its charm and its effects. Hippotherapy turns what used to be a chore into fun, and the effects are measurable. The strength in Becca's legs and torso could make a soccer player jealous! Week to week, I don't think Becca even notices how hard she's working (but she'll sleep in the car on the way home).