It is a cool, bright Thursday morning. Granja Las Animas, a little ranch outside of San Miguel, is preparing for it's weekly visitors. Butter, a gentle palomino, is being brushed in the stable yard. Rafa, the giant gray, is being saddled with a special soft pad that will make it easy for riders to feel his warmth and movement. A van arrives, full of excited children, their parents and teachers. The weekly equine therapy session for special needs children from Centro De Crecimiento is about to start. The benefits of using horses to improve the balance, coordination, and flexibility of the disabled have been recognized as far back as 600 BC. Equine therapy was used during WWI to rehabilitate wounded soldiers, and in Scandinavia in the 1940's when two devastating polio outbreaks left hundreds paralyzed. One of these victims was accomplished horsewoman, Lis Hartel, who was determined to ride independently after her illness. She brought attention to riding for the disabled when she won a silver medal for Dressage in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic games. More recently retired military caisson horses have helped rehabilitate wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Equine therapy programs exist throughout Mexico. In 2007, Centro de Crecimiento added equine therapy as part of its physical therapy program under the guidance of the Director of Education. What the children will do on horseback this morning depends on their needs. Most of the kids are eager to ride; others will need coaxing just to touch the horse's shiny side or offer it a carrot. Each rider has a crew of three or four helpers leading the horse, supporting body position and modeling the exercises, calling encouragement. Some students will have a rider in the saddle with them, going through motions that exercise stiff limbs and stimulate dormant senses. Even babies can benefit from this extremely effective therapy.
|Posted by San Miguel Horses on February 15, 2011 at 6:52 PM||4124 Views|