“My son Nathan is 4 years old and has Autism. When first presented with the opportunity to try Hippotherapy with his Physical Therapist, I was skeptical that he would even be able to join in the classes as he had to wear a helmet to participate. Nathan has never allowed anything to be near or on his head without a lot of anxiety. The first day it took three attempts to get the helmet on him, and he screamed the entire session. Although I was discouraged, the staff and therapists were forever patient, and they encouraged us not to give up.
By only the third week Nathan was willingly putting his helmet on, even reaching to help put it on his own head, not a tear was shed, and he participated that whole session and every session after! He got such a great workout each week, especially strengthening his core, legs and upper body by working on repositioning and remaining stable on the horse as it moved through the obstacle course. By the end of the 12-week sessions, he would start to get excited just when I turn the corner to come to the stables!”
“My older boy has some sensory issues, so it was perfect for him to get away from the everyday life stimuli and into a complete other world. I really loved how his instructor included horse care basics into every session. It made the experience more salient, and meaningful; I truly believe that taking care of another being’s needs makes any child a better person.
My younger son had occupational therapy on horse back, but it was so much more beneficial than that! He also has low muscle tone, and poor balance, so hippo therapy addressed both those issues at the same time. His therapist, Ms. Barb, kept the Hippotherapy sessions routine, so they were always consistent for my child.
In addition, she kept them fresh by bringing a different lesson plan/theme every week. For example, a spring theme one week involved my son’s picking jelly beans from the therapist’s container on one side of the horse and pushing them through a hole into a container held by the side-walker on the other side of the horse. Had this activity been center-based, I’m sure Ms. Barb would still be picking up the jelly beans he’d flung around the room! The hippotherapy, and therapeutic riding programs were, without a doubt, time and money well spent for my boys. I can’t wait for this fall’s sessions!”
“When I first was told about Hoofbeats with Heart and the start of their Hippotherapy sessions, I knew right away that I wanted to get my son involved. He has Autism and has always had a fear of being off the ground. He has a love for horses, so I thought this would be a great way for him to address those fears. On the first day of Hippotherapy he got on the horse like it was something he had always done.
He loved it! He enjoyed each of his sessions and was doing things that I never thought he would do on the back of a horse. I am so grateful that we were given the opportunity to join in the sessions, and we look forward to next season sessions!”
“I command the Medical Hold Detachment (MHD-AZ) of the Arizona Army National Guard (AZARNG). The MHD-AZ is composed of members of the AZARNG who have been become seriously ill or injured in the line of duty. Most of these men and women were injured while serving in combat in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. As the commander of these men and women, I am constantly faced with the challenge of finding medical, emotional, and even spiritual help for those who face these extremely debilitating injuries.
I am constantly seeking help from both government services (U.S. Army, National Guard, Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), etc.) and even from charitable or commercial non-governmental services. This is how the MHD-AZ became involved with the Hoofbeats with Heart.
Through a lucky chance meeting, Master Sergeant Nicky Wells (my Readiness Sergeant) met the people from Hoofbeats with Heart and told them of our unit, it’s soldiers, and their immense recovery challenges. The Hoofbeats with Heart staff not only clearly understood the criticality of our soldiers’ injuries and situations, and their organizations’ unique ability to help these men and women, but offered to begin working via equine therapy and traditional counseling with our soldiers.
As of this date, Hoofbeats with Heart has worked with over 20 of our wounded soldiers, and I and Master Sergeant Wells, have received very positive feedback from our troops. It appears that the counseling that my soldiers receive from the VA coupled with the therapy that they experience from Hoofbeats with Heart is a powerfully healing combination. I am grateful beyond words for what Hoofbeats with Heart has given to the men and women who have given so much to their nation.
I wholeheartedly recommend this fine organization, their compassionate leadership and staff, and their outstanding program of healing to anyone who is struggling with emotionally debilitating injuries or memories. Any trust placed with this organization or capable staff will not be misplaced. Please feel free to contact me personally at anytime if you have any questions or need additional information about the MHD-AZ’s experiences with Hoofbeats with Heart.”
“The benefits hippotherapy has brought to Tonya, is just amazing. Tonya is a deteriorated myelin, brain tumor, and stroke survivor. The left side of her body is paralyzed, and she is in a wheelchair with a leg brace.
Tonya started January 7th (evaluation day) and has spent every Sunday, except for one, doing hippotherapy. She started her first time on a horse, January 14th and thought she was going to throw up and was totally nervous. She did not throw up, however we learned she needs to make sure she drank more water during the week and make sure she was cool on the ride to the property. Her second time on the horse, she started to relax more and started gaining confidence in what she might be capable of doing. She slowly started to sit up straighter and relax her left arm.
Each time she has gone out on the horse, she has been able to gain more strength and endurance. This last weekend she was sitting up perfectly straight and rarely was leaning forward. I have not seen or heard my sister be this confident or happy in a really long time. This therapy has not only helped make her more mobile, but it has also had a great effect on her mentally. She has really come a long way in such a short time. She looks forward to coming out each week.
As a family, we are so grateful for this opportunity for her. We could not do what this horse has done for her. It has totally blown us away. We never thought she would come this far so quickly or at all. She has a real chance again at being able to put more movement into her body.”
“I’ve been asked to tell you about my experiences with hippotherapy, and I’m honored to do so. I had a stroke on October 5, 2014, a little over 3 years ago. It devastated my body, and my life. I lost balance, talk-ability, normal use of my right leg, and normal use of my right hand & arm. I’ve since been through a ton of physical therapy, and I have to tell you that nothing has ever reached my body and brain like this.
My first horse ride was a hard one. It was a totally new adventure, in so many ways. And the fear factor was enormous – for about 45 minutes. I then started relaxing, and I ended up losing my fear and gaining my balance. Of course, I was exhausted; but in a very good way.
My next few rides have been purposely challenging, but never fearful. I’m now able to find my balance quickly, and each week I get better at maintaining my balance while riding. The therapist keeps stretching me, and I’ve already been able to do things I never thought possible – including greater walkability and balance.
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop now. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Honestly, it’s one of the best therapies I’ve ever had.”