March 4, 2013
Last semester I started volunteering with a local occupational therapist who practices hippotherapy. It's not hypnosis or playing with hippopotamuses. It's a wonderful therapy intervention that utilizes horses. It can be used with people of all ages and diagnoses, but Claudia mainly sees children. What's different about hippotherapy is that it uses the movement of the horse to train neuromuscular responses in the kids. They aren't learning how the ride the horse or anything like that. They're basically just doing OT on top of a horse. It's really awesome! It's really cool to see how excited the kids are to be on the horse, and it's amazing to see how much just something simple like their posture can improve during the session.
Hippotherapy has started up again this semester, and I'm so excited to start back. I love the kids and I love the unique take on OT, and I love all the experiences I get there and everything I'm learning. But I also love the horses. They are so sweet and gentle (I mean, they have to be with kids throwing balls on them and banging them around trying to pet them). My mom grew up riding horses on my grandparents' farm in North Carolina, and I've always wished I knew more about horses than I do. They are lots of hard work, so my grandparents don't keep horses anymore since no one's around to ride them. I've learned so much about horses (and OT) from volunteering at hippotherapy once a week. I love that I'm able to feel more connected with something that my mom grew up loving.
Claudia has 6 horses and two miniature ponies. Five of the horses are used in therapy, and the other horse Lady just hangs out and keeps tabs on everything that's going on.
Hippotherapy has seriously been an awesome experience for me, and every time I go I can't help but feel grateful for this great opportunity, especially since there aren't that many OTs practicing hippotherapy in the country. It's fantastic to have such an amazing one here in Augusta.
If you want to learn more about Blue Ribbon Riders, the place I volunteer, click HERE. And if you want to learn more about hippotherapy in general, click HERE.
These pictures are from Demo Day in November. It's where the kids get to show off everything they've learned to their families. It was a pretty big deal. The local news even came out.