In many communities, there are very few programs that accommodate children with disabilities. When one parent had heard the benefits of therapeutic riding, and living in a “horse town”, he began to investigate for his son, Zakarai. After calling 10 local stables, he realized that most were not in a position to accept children with disabilities. And if one did reply, generally it was only at a rate of double to triple the cost of a non-disabled rider for a ‘therapist’ to accompany. Unfortunately, this is a common and difficult reality for families of children with special needs.
One stable owner, Shauna Perry of Bittersweet Farm in Bethany, CT, had over the years come to know some of these special children and offered to help Zakarai. Our Foundation was approached about the cost and provided help.
The team at Bittersweet describes the benefits of having these special children be involved with horses. “Children like the warm touch. It calms emotions, allows bonding, and builds confidence.”
“Riding, brushing, working with the trained horses–it all helps with the ongoing therapy for these individuals (such as speech, occupational, and physical therapies).”
The staff recalled a story of one boy who came for lessons and could not raise his head for year. He was paralyzed and in a wheelchair. The young boy was given horse riding lessons and put his head up for the first time during one of the sessions! He even began speaking some utterances. Amazing!