The magic that exists between a horse and rider with sensory or physical disabilities transcends all language and physical barriers. Nowhere is this more evident than at the Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrian Program (MGH).
As part of AIDB’s Health and Clinical Services Department (HCS), MGH is a world-renowned rehabilitation and recreation program for children and adults served by AIDB. Our mission is to maximize the potential and well-being for our students by providing equine-facilitated activities in the areas of therapy, sport, and recreation to enhance physical and mental skills, aid in mobilization and promote socialization and communication. Last fiscal year, MGH provided over 3,000 rides to students at AIDB. Program elements include hippotherapy, recreational riding, adaptive therapeutic riding, equine-facilitated mental health, equine-facilitated psychotherapy, equine-facilitated learning and rider’s club.
Hippotherapy literally means therapy with the help of a horse. This therapy is a goal of the Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrian Program at AIDB. Students who have been in wheelchairs or on walkers since their earliest years have spent many painful hours of physical therapy on mats. While they accept it, many of them lose motivation for the incremental progress they make. But hippotherapy motivates the movement of tightened or restricted muscles and limbs. One student fought physical therapy on the mat, but would stay on a horse for hours.
The relationship between a horse and student reaches deep inside, touching their hearts and opening communication. One autistic child, who never stopped moving, never relaxed, immediately stretched out across the horse’s back, calmed by the horse’s presence. Another child who refuses to communicate and who avoids touching other people, will seize the therapist by the arm and walk her to the horse, taking her hand and petting his mount.
The MGH arena, built 24 years ago, covers approximately one acre of the 23 acres on which it sits. The arena seats 1,500 with the capacity to accommodate 2,500. MGH has three barns, an outdoor riding ring, two sensory trails, a lunging round pen, and an arena. The program obtained premier accreditation status by The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH).
For additional information, visit www.mgharena.com.
Reed’s Journey through Spoken Language (Blog by Reed’s Mom, Ashley, posted August 29, 2014)
I am sorry I didn’t update you on Wednesday. Reed had his first horse therapy lesson on Wednesday. I showed up about 10 mins before the lesson was over. This was the neatest thing. Reed will form a bond with his very own horse. He has a leader to guide his every move. While he is riding this horse in a circle, they have several stops along the way. The stops are designed to be speech stops. This is why it is very cool. Reed has speech therapy in a classroom setting all day but when he has horse therapy they continue the speech therapy… Reed loves his horse and he jumped right on. I am in love with this school and all the wonderful things they are doing for my child.