Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dismounting from the horse

Photograph used with permission from Bart Hickman at Bart's Photography

There are several different ways to dismount from a horse. These pictures show my favorite method because the child has to motor plan how to first put weight on the withers (the horse hump in front of the rider). Next, swing that right leg behind, shifting weight onto the left foot while at the same time moving the arms to face that person on the right (not shown) .

This method also provides much sensory (tactile/touch) deep pressure stimulation as the child slides along the horse's barrrel down to the ground. I encourage the side-walker (the person assisting on the other side of the horse) to encourage eye contact as the child is facing her and moving downward.

In the above picture, the child is stepping onto steps. But if the child is willing to jump off (with some assistance, as shown) its a great way to work on balance and the bilateral coordination to jump. It also helps those kids with gravitational insecurity get used to movement while off the ground.

Sometimes I have my kids turn around on the horse to face me and then jump. I hold their hands, count to 3 and prepare them for a jump landing.

There are other ways to dismount which I won't get into here since they are rather advanced.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

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