Our 13 year old son, Seth, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and cognitive delays. He requires the use of a walker for walking due to his muscle tightness, weakness, and poor balance issues. I vividly recall the first day that we took him to ride. He was absolutely terrified of the horse. Christina, an NC State student and one of the Horse & Buddy volunteers, quickly intervened and talked Seth through his fear. He has been happily riding ever since. The Horse and Buddy program provides Seth with a unique opportunity to strengthen his torso and legs, improve his balance and posture, while providing a wonderful opportunity for confidence building and socialization. His many physical challenges often limit him in these areas. We are very thankful he has the opportunity to ride his horse each week. He especially loves interacting with the many wonderful volunteers who come out weekly to help him and the other riders.
Horse and Buddy does, indeed, improve motor skills, upper and lower body strength, and balance. But the greatest benefit is the pride and sense of accomplishment that each rider feels when in the ring, or on a trail ride astride a beautiful horse. My daughter, and others like her, live in a world that does not acknowledge or appreciate how strong, courageous, and truly remarkable these children are. Horse and Buddy does, and as the parent of a "special needs" child, I am grateful for all this program has offered over the years, and continues to offer.
Since my daughter lost her vision I am always looking for new experiences for her. I was so excited to find your program and that I was able to start her riding lessons right away. Brittany has been riding for almost 3 years. It is amazing how far she has come since the first day she began riding in your program. I believe the 1st day she cried for 55 minutes and walked 1 lap around the arena. She was petrified to trot to the point that she would have a melt down or she would have to go to the bathroom every time you mentioned the word TROT. She has progressed since then. She graduated from a little pony to a very large horse. She actually asks to trot, she can climb up into the saddle by herself, do two point, and she even won a silver medal in the Special Olympics last summer. What an accomplishment!!!! Brittany has had trouble with her balance and low muscle tone in her legs. Since she has been riding I have noticed an improvement in her balance, her confidence has improved to where she is willing to try unfamiliar activities and the strength she has gained in her legs and upper body is truly amazing. Brittany actually gets upset when she has to miss her riding lesson and she doesn't miss very many. I want to thank you and all the volunteers for the special attention and patience you give our children every week. And we are looking forward to many new challenges.
After two years of struggling, our daughter was able to get herself into a sitting position within a month of starting the Horse And Buddy program. Her muscles have been strengthened to where she now sits in a straight position for long periods of time. She loves "her" horse and talks about him all week long until we arrive on Saturday. It is amazing to see the commitment of the young volunteers. Most of the volunteers are teenagers who arrive early on Saturday mornings (!) to assist. They show great love and attention to their buddies and the horses. We believe that Horse and Buddy has made a huge difference in the development of our daughter!
© Horse and Buddy 2005