a blog about raising a daughter with cerebral palsy and learning unexpected lessons along the way

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hippotherapy: First Session

Saturday was Oia's first hippotherapy session. In addition to OT, PT, and ST, she will also now get hippotherapy 1x/wk for 30 minutes. Hippotherapy helps improve postural control, balance reactions and mobility in ones hips and upper body. While mounted on top of a horse, Oia or anyone like her, can accurately feel the sensations of a typical gait/stride through the horses natural mimic of this. We are thrilled that she has the opportunity to experience such a therapy and not only that, but she really, really enjoys herself doing it.

The helmet on the other hand...not a fan. I strategized with her and said that this is what the 'professionals' wear when they ride. I'm sure that concept went right over her head but she went with it anyways and quickly mounted her new friend, Mr. Bojangles.

I was thoroughly impressed with the first session. Nothing too hard but appropriate for the first session. Oia felt at ease. She sat forwards, backwards and side-ways on the horse. There were two separate hand-holds for Oia which is perfect for engaging Righty. She did great keeping a strong grasp with both hands. They played music for Oia while she rode a few laps, played a stop and go game, and she even got to toss a ball back and forth with one of the spotters. The time was very engaging for Oia and she straightened her posture very quickly after seated on top.

They had Oia trot lightly for short bursts but most of the session was done at a walk. She didn't mind the bounce at all. In fact, she prefers the thrill.

Oia got to feed a bowl of treats to Mr. Bo after the session was over. She shuddered a bit with uncertainty having such a large animal so upclose and personal but she handled it well. I think next time she'd like to request a little more personal space from Bo. Or maybe perhaps we'll just bring Bo a carrot next time.

The session painted huge smiles on all three of our faces. For Rob and I to see her riding seems a bit magical to us. Call me a sap, but I get chill bumps every time I see my little girl holding her own on top of a horse. Just proud...really, really proud.


  1. Yeah Oia! I'm so glad that she likes riding the horse! I wish Gracie's class was doing the hippotherapy again, but we have to patiently wait her turn.

  2. Oh Mo!
    Awesome is not the word! Faith has started using a two handled sursey in her latest session. I think it is much better than a single one! Oia looks like she had a blast! Watching them on horseback is a spiritual experience, for sure. I just love it!

  3. Fabulous! We all should ride on a trotting horse, eh? Barbara

  4. This is so wonderful to see. Ben has his first session in May and we're super excited about it. She did awesome!

  5. First of all I'm so jealous of Oia right now. I miss riding SO much. I'd lend her my helmet, if I would even come close to fittting, I have a very large head for someone under 5 ft tall, mine is quite fashionable if I say so myself. I'll see what kind of helmet covers I can find for her :) Trotting is fun, wait until she canters, just kidding :)

  6. What a fun therapy for her!! Looks like she really enojoyed herself :)

  7. Thank you! I was surfing the internet today because I live in the Charlottesville area looking for Hippotherapy for my 2 1/2 year old daughter who has cp/pvl. I barely know what hippotherapy is. I am jumping through hoops with my insurance trying to get it approved because both her PT and pediatrician believe it along with aqua therapy could benefit her greatly but the insurance thinks its alternative medicine. Anyhow, thank you. I know this will be wonderful for her. Months ago I got in a slump thinking she would never be able to go into a little ballet class with a cute little tutu and ballet shoes on and twirl around. But now maybe instead she will just be a cowgirl (hey, she has to wear boots and/or braces all the time anyhow!). And to know this will also help with her keeping her hand in a fist as well is just an added benefit.