Ride Your Horse
From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 17
Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach pediatric rehabilitation patients with special needs, such as spina bifida, brain injuries, neuromuscular disorders and other conditions, were given a special opportunity on Aug. 9 to ride horses for their very first time with “Ride Your Horse!,” a therapeutic program at B&B Stables in Cerritos.
Miller Children’s offers extensive rehabilitation services, one of which being recreational therapy. In recreational therapy, patients engage in events or activities, like horseback riding, they may not otherwise be exposed to because of their physical limitations. These special activities give patients the opportunity to connect with other children and families going through similar experiences.
Patients learned all about horses, their temperament, safety, proper care and grooming before getting to ride their horse around the arena and through obstacles. Horseback riding is beneficial not only physically - by helping them to regain balance and improve motor skills - but it also helps patients build confidence, have greater self-reliance and improve their cognitive, social and emotional abilities.
Interaction with animals also encourages patients to form more meaningful relationships with people and, perhaps most importantly, foster a sense of normalcy. “Many of our patients have difficulty with social skills,” says Mariana de Sena, C.T.R.S., recreational therapist at Miller Children’s. “Horseback riding is helpful because children tend to open up more to animals then they do to people.”
Darlene Harman, founder and director of the “Ride Your Horse!” program says that therapeutic riding really can be “life changing.”
“Riding a horse helps patients with circulation and moves their pelvis and skeletal structure in a way that mimics human walking, yet at the same time doing so with a horse that is always patient and never judges,” says Harman.
The program truly is unique. It’s a special opportunity where you can watch children’s faces light up as they get on a horse for the first time and realize they can do it - they can ride a horse.
Miller Children’s Hospital