Last week Bilal had his final horse show, it was planned to be at Banks County Horse Association but they had to cancel due to the rain. So Lynn the owner and instructor at Brecht Stables and Dustin’s Place looked around till she found that the Rolling Hills Saddle Club at the Wills Park Equestrian Area in Alpharetta had a show taking place as well. For us this was great, its like in our own backyard. Its more formal and a tad more expensive that Banks County but we enjoyed it more, its faster paced they have several arenas so there wasn’t much wait time and their speaker system was a bit louder too.
Bilal has been taking horseback riding since Jan. 2012 first as therapeutic riding, then as western riding. When his therapy center started doing hippo-therapy he was considered the most advanced rider. He’s learnt a lot and I’m sure developed physically as well. Last Fall he participated in three classes at the Banks County Horse Association and won three ribbons, 6th, 5th and 1st place. We’ve taken the 25 mile drive once a week up to Cumming for lessons, in all kinds of weather. It has been a lot of fun. Sulayman started therapeutic riding when he turned 2 and quickly picked up some skills, and he had a blast playing with Lynn’s two year old Timothy and his sandbox and toys. Sadly though we decided that a year and a half of riding was enough, and it was time to move on to something else. He requires less therapy now and needs to work more on social skills, so we’re thinking of a team sport like soccer or anything else he may like, he’s still young and needs to explore other options. We’ll greatly miss Lynn and her boys, the horses and the ranch. I wish her all the best with her program and we’ll stay in touch and meet again soon.
Bilal’s Horse Show Ribbon
Back in Janurary I wrote this about Equine Therapy at the time I didnt know that there was a difference between hippotherapy and something called theraputic riding.
Hippo-therapy or equine therapy is done by a certified physical therapist and they carry out physical therapy but the horse is an aid for skill learning and they carry out all their goals but atop the horse. They sit backwards or sideways for balance training, they stick their arms out, they lean forward, sideways or backwards to grab items etc.
Therapeutic Riding is riding a horse as best as an individual can with their disability, they learn riding safety, compassion towards the horse and they create a bond with the horse and the whole experience helps calm a child on the spectrum. The teacher isnt a certified therapist just someone with knowledge and experience both with horses and special needs. Theraputic riding is more widespread and common.
Both are beneficial to a child on the spectrum but hippotherapy is more intense, and because of the presense of a certified therapist it is almost always covered by insurance.
Bilal was doing theraputic riding as Lynn Bretcht isnt a certified therapist I asked her about the difference between the two, she explained it to me and said that even though she isnt certified she was still carrying out the same goals as in hippotherapy, her son Dustin has Downs and was in therapy growing up, he did/does Speech, OT, and PT and she used to observe his sessions and took ideas to use with horse back riding. So technically Bilal was doing theraputic riding but it was more like hippotherapy.
Children’s Therapy Works (CTW) the center where Bilal takes his OT and PT trained their physical therapists in hippotherapy and riding, and in April started giving sessions at a farm. Worried that Bilal would have a repitition of services between CTW and Bretcht Stables I told Lynn that she could teach Bilal basic horse back riding skills and no longer offer him therapy as he will be getting that with CTW, she agreed and we got him riding boots and he’s learning to “post” and steer, he may learn a bit slower but as she had 3 months with him in therapy she knows him well and can adapt his learning to fit him.
The only difference between what he was learning and what he’s now doing is in hippo is that instead of sitting in a saddle with stir-ups he’s just sitting on a saddle blanket, its much harder and this teaches him balance and really strengthens the hip/waist and core muscles. I think doing both hippo and horse back riding lessons has greatly strengthened Bilal’s core and posture and maybe one day he can be a rider maybe compete in special Olympics or other competitions.