Shortly after starting his first term at school we were told that Roo was getting to go and try horse riding therapy! I had heard fantastic things about this type of therapy as quite a few of Roo friends go and I've seen the benefits so was quite pleased that Roo was getting this chance too but at same time I had my reservations as Roo always seemed scared of horses. We go for walks a lot in the country and every time we came across a horse if I tried to go near Roo would start to get anxious and upset. Even though I showed him that they were friendly by stroking them he wouldn't accept it. There were a few times we had the opportunity to try riding but Roo wasn't having it! So I wondered if he would be able to take part in this therapy.
To my amazement his 1:1 told me that he was doing really well and that they even managed to get him to sit on a horse!! Wow! We were then given the opportunity to go and watch Roo do a Christmas show on the horses so hubby even got time off work to watch as like me he couldn't believe Roo actually rode a horse!
That day was yesterday, we got a very friendly welcome and after chatting she mentioned that she had Roo quite a lot and said how he was such a joy, and that they had found that some days be can be really quiet and not say a sound then other days he would be really chatty which we said was exactly how Roo is. Roo then arrived alongside some other pupils from his school and when he saw us he gave a big beaming smile. We saw them get ready and watched him getting on the horse, and slowly ride to his position. Music was played and then all then started riding in several directions, they had to do some gestures with their arms, throw snowballs etc. At first Roo was really quiet just staring around him then he walked passed us, gave us a smile and I could see how relaxed he was, how he managed to keep his balance & then he started to interact with the ladies walking beside him, using hand gestures, smiling, and even high fiving them! When they were doing the snowball part every time Roo put his ball in the net his face would light up and he would start clapping then looking at all the ladies in turn to make sure they were clapping alongside him!! At the end when they got him off the horse he stood next to the horse's face , bent down to look at him closely and smile....this was amazing to see as he would normally freak out if he was ever that close to a horse.
Horse riding therapy is truely amazing, its a place where their disabilities seem to fade away for a short time, they become confident, the smile and relaxed look on their faces & bodies as they ride in rhythm with the amazing horses who are very gentle and patient. I can see how they help to improve balance and co ordination as I could see it in Roo. The whole time he was in there it was easy to "forget" the disabilities and just see him for the little boy he is who now loves to ride a horse.
Here are some photos we took of Roo while riding...at the end when they stop outside where we were standing Roo to our amazement was posing and smiling for the camera...something he no longer does as he hates the camera but not that day as he was feeling confident and happy on the horse and was showing us.