An unconventional kind of therapy is making waves in the medical community. Horse riding is turning into treatment.
Lawson Smith is no stranger to the saddle. The 6-year-old was born with Down Syndrome and has been learning the reigns since he could walk.
"The faster the horse goes, the better he focuses,” said Pamela Smith, Lawson’s mother.
Hidden in the midst of Greenville’s hustle and bustle is a place called “Rocking Horse Ranch.”
"It's not just riding, which therapeutic riding is beneficial in itself, but they do put in academics,” said Smith.
The non-profit uses specially-trained horses and activities to help people of all ages with a range of disabilities, whether cognitive or physical. Eleven paid instructors and 65-80 volunteers come out every week. Many of them have backgrounds in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and even mental health.
"Lawson's worked with many people and we've loved each person the same,” said Smith.
“They keep coming back because it makes you feel good to help somebody, to know that what you're doing is helping and then to actually directly see the results of that,” said Linda Moran, Rocking Horse Ranch director.
Besides the normal Equine-assisted activities, some horses and trainers are skilled in Hippotherapy. It’s been proven to improve muscle tone, balance, strength and cognitive skills…even for people who have relatively little to no motor function.
“If you can transition on the horse, it helps your transitions from sitting to standing to walking or even from rolling to sitting up in your everyday settings,” said Moran.
As Winston Churchill once said, “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.”
"Even if you come with a lot of baggage, just getting on and riding and being outside...sort of allows you to decompress and put things in perspective,” said Moran.
The cost of riding is $25.00 per session.
Rocking Horse Ranch has several big fundraising events coming up. They’d love to eventually get an indoor ring so they can accommodate riders rain or shine.
If you’d like to help, a link to the “Rocking Horse Ranch” Facebook page and website is below:
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