“My daughter is a 3 year old girl who was diagnosed at 10 months old with Cerebral Palsy. Specifically, help she suffers from left-side hemi paresis due to an in-utero stroke including limited vision in her left eye. Since her diagnosis, she has been through many therapies with many specialists, including Constraint Induced Movement Therapy, Bracing, Physical and Occupational Therapy, Botox injections and Group therapy to enhance social skills. All of these therapies have resulted in various successes, but none have come close to the improvement she has shown since beginning with RideAble in September of 2012. Since that time, she has shown marked improvement in her gait, balance, and stability. She falls much less than she used to, and has shown great advances in the use of the left side of her body. Her sense of vision has also shown improvement as she is learning to compensate for her lack of peripheral vision in her left eye by tracking her movement while riding. She has also shown improvement in her overall demeanor and confidence. The competent staff at RideAble make it easy for her to feel comfortable while learning riding skills; she can’t wait each week for her next session. From leading her horse out, to mounting ; she always has a smile on her face, and leaves with the satisfaction of having done a good job. Thank you RideAble for all that you have done for her and for her family.”
“A 20-year-old student who experiences an intellectual disability and is also nonverbal due to autism took to his horse almost immediately around four years ago. He is an individual who has a difficult time remaining calm and making sense of structure when in a classroom environment. He would typically exhibit this frustration through vocal and sometimes physical outbursts. When he was introduced to the staff and therapy animals at RideAble, his school staff were uncertain how he would respond, and more importantly, how the RideAble team would interact with and respond to him. The program has been wonderful, and as a result, RideAble has been a life changing experience for him. No, he has not found his voice in a traditional sense, but he has, however; developed a deep relationship with his therapy horse, and has found a sense of belonging in a place he feels comfortable, empowered, and cared for. He has found a voice, so to speak, in his ability to interact with his therapy horse and RideAble staff, which is reflected by his ability to become calm and relaxed when in their presence. He has found a place he belongs, which fosters independence and self assuredness, and that carries over into the rest of his day and week. RideAble has reinforced many of the positive behavior supports he has learned over the years, and allowed him to become a more independent person. The team is always encouraging and very capable, always instilling a sense of confidence and security with every lesson. His life has been enriched as a result of the program at RideAble.”
“Here are a few words to help others understand our experience at RideAble. I know it is long, but please read every word because you might not know how deeply you have touched our family. I will start towards the beginning: our daughter was born in 2002 and has a diagnosis of Asperger’s. By the spring of 2012 my daughter had been on psychotropic medications for 5 years. Her little body was never still. She had nervous tics that caused her to blink, flick her hands, and clear her throat constantly, even in her sleeps. She had horrific nightmares and screamed in her sleep. She would not brush her teeth or take a shower. She did not read. She had violent tantrums and would cry for hours. She wore a big furry hat at school to protect her from the outside world. Finally, at the age of 10, I had to remove her from school for her own safety. I had no hope of my little girl ever being comfortable in her own skin, let alone happy. It was as if she was locked in her own miserable prison. I was desperate. I had heard about RideAble but hadn’t considered it as I assumed it would be too expensive and none of the other interventions I had tried had helped (art therapy, in-home therapy, behavioral therapy, and the ever changing pharmacy of drugs that rendered her sleepy, hungry, and glassy eyed). But, a good friend told me how well her daughter was doing at RideAble and encouraged me to try. So I called and the same day I heard back from the director and we scheduled a lesson. I filled out the paperwork, including my strict instructions not to touch my child, thinking that I knew best. In the days leading up to her first lesson I told my girl that she didn’t have to ride the horse, or touch the horse, or be without me for even a minute. We would just go and look at the horse.
“On the way to the barn I rehearsed in my head how I would approach the staff, protect my daughter, and control the session. I thought I knew best. I would make sure that my rules were followed and my child was not touched. We walked into the barn and we were greeted at once by a volunteer who introduced herself as Denise, held her hand out to my daughter and asked her if she was ready to meet her horse, Bleu. I was amazed when my daughter took her hand. Denise directed me to the other side of the arena and the two of them walked down the row of stalls with eager horses peering out at them. I walked down the opposite row of stalls and reached up to the first horse I came to and buried my face in his neck and cried. I knew that it would be okay.
“I made my way to the parents viewing area and waited, assuming that my little girl would be led into the arena on “her” horse. I was wrong; the horse was led into the arena by my little daughter and she was smiling! She had something in her eyes that I had not seen in years: Pride. Up in the saddle her little body relaxed. Her instructor took her little hands, hands that she normally did not allow others to touch, and showed her how to hold the reins. She didn’t scream or cry or fight. She smiled, I cried. By the end of the lesson she was riding Bleu and her new life had begun. I know this: Bleu gave me my little girl back.Within just a few weeks with RideAble I was able to discontinue the medications that my daughter had been on for 5 years. She slept peacefully. She attended summer camp and loved it. She went to her first sleep over. She learned to read and reads above grade level now. She relaxed. She grew confident and happy. She began to trust people. By the time school started in the fall she was ready and eager to go back! Everyone who knows her, family, teachers and friends, are amazed at the transformation in my daughter since she started at RideAble. Being able to groom and ride and really communicate with “her” horse has given her confidence in all other areas of her life. By observing how the instructors communicate with my daughter I have learned some skills myself and sometimes remind her to “take a deep breath”. For the first time in years I have hope that my child will have a good life. Every Tuesday is a magic day because that is the day she rides!
“My daughter, myself, her siblings, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, teachers and friends have all been deeply touched by the gifts given to us by RideAble, the instructors, the volunteers, the other families, and the magic horses.”