|Dominic getting ready for therapy!|
We walked into the barn and I was taken aback by the enormous horse who was standing in front of me. Because I have not yet learned a solitary thing about this new type of physical therapy using horses, I assumed a little guy like Dominic would be on a little horse, just his size. But instead there stood in front of us a giant of a horse, a 24 year old draft horse, the type with long fur encircling his ankles. He was being groomed and eating treats, great globs of green-treat slobber falling from his mouth. We patted his head and I helped Dominic feel his fur. Dominic showed his excitement by raising his eyebrows in the curious way he does- that way that speaks for his whole body. That boy sure does have great eyebrows. What he lacks in the ability to express himself with his body, he makes up with great, expressive eyebrows.
Dominic was fitted with his helmet and off to the arena we went (drove actually because I'm too lazy to carry that big ol' boy that far). I guess by now you are wondering why in the world we are at a ranch, looking a horse, and putting a helmet on Dominic, eh? He has started hippotherapy, which is physical therapy using a horse as a modality, or tool, to facilitate the desired movements in the patient. Children can start at the age of two and his physical therapist just happens to be a certified hippotherapist! Back to the story. To mount the horse, there is a big box, about 4 feet high where we all stand. The therapist mounted first then took Dominic and sat him in front of her. The whole session, there was a horse-leader and two side-walkers (my mom and myself) to make sure Dominic was safe and sound. We walked with that horse around the arena for about 30 minutes and Dominic would off and on smile, showing his pleasure of being on top of his new friend named Dixie. The therapy was fun, but very tiring for him, and after 30 minutes he was just about a little mush-pot. We gave him a rest and our sweet therapist let each of the other kids have a turn riding Dixie for a few minutes. She realized how the siblings of special needs children often get pushed to the side, unable to do the "fun" stuff like play during therapy or get all the attention from the doctors and nurses. I am so grateful for her heart that is open to the needs of the siblings too- that is a rare find to be sure.
|MiMi enjoying the beautiful scenery|
During that session when I saw him slowly start to sit more upright, start to hold his head a little higher, look around as if a tad bit more alert I felt the first glimmer of hope in his improvement that I have had in quite some time. Normally, I fully expect him to continue to decline in function, but that little sweet bag-o-treats just keeps proving me wrong. I am hopeful this new therapy will help him gain the strength to enjoy his family, his home, and his environment just a little bit more. Who knows, maybe he'll even learn to sit all by himself!
So here's a heart-felt thank you to his sweet therapist and her unyielding commitment to make his life just a little better. Ride on, Cowboy Dom!
|Anthony getting his turn. (Ignore my high-waters. What, you didn't see them til' now? Shucks)|
|Mary Grace refused to go alone so her bug bubba Jake obliged and let her tag along. :)|