Sunday, November 28, 2010

Horse Coloring Pictures

I came across these horse themed coloring pictures to print out. enjoy :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Basket ball posting

I found this small basketball game at a yard sale. I find the sounds rather annoying but the kids like it. It gave us something fun to do while on the trail and some kids were motivated to pull the reins to stop as we approached the toy. This little guy did great posting to insert the ball.

Another little guy with mild hemiplegia demosntrated good postural control to string large shapes while standing on top of the horse.
Here's an interesting article about using horses as life coaches

Monday, November 22, 2010

Two new clients (a 5 year and 6 year old) had initial sessions today. The parents decided that they liked hippotherapy and plan on coming back in the spring. I will stop for the winter at Stone Ridge farm in Haverhill, Mass since it is not heated and I will continue one day a week at another farm that is heated.  The 6 year old who has autism followed directions really well and loved all the movement (as expected). When he got off the horse, the first thing he said to his dad was "piggyback" and up he went again on a different mammal.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stringing while standing on top of horse

Two kids did fantastic today standing on top of the horse while stinging donut shapes (flat plastic pieces with holes in the center) on a cord attached to the tack handle. A 2 year old who has downs syndrome actually did a better job sequencing the steps to insert the cord through the donut shape and grasp the cord tip so that the shape falls down- than she has done while sitting on the horse. I think that she realized that I was too busy keeping my hands on her ankle and gait belt to help her use her hands, so she did it all herself. I was very impressed.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ring Stack Pole

I like the pole with three dowels for rings. Maybe my son will make one for me......

Monday, November 8, 2010

Standing on horse for first time

This little girl does something new and daring each week. This video shows the first time she stood on top of a horse. Today, she demonstrated good postural control to go up and down steep hills while facing sideways and touching named body parts with one hand. Another postural challenge I like to do is having them give the side walker high fives as they face sideways (facing me) as we walk in circles. Then they have to rotate to reach behind to give the high 5 and this tends to improve their sitting posture. Its also amazing how movement and motivation help this little girl's speech volume and articulation improve during the 30 minute sessions.  


kjo0521 said...

I really enjoyed reading the blogs discussing the application and use of hippo therapy. I am a OT student in upstate NY and have been involved with horses most of my life. I have participated and volunteered at several programs, and one thing I would like to see changed or improved is the activities included in these programs, to increase the amount at which therapists challenge or push the individual. Many programs allow the individual to walk around on the horse, but I would love to someday run a program which challenges horse and rider. I believe the application of hippo therapy and the activites come with experience, while at first I may also be worried about someone falling off, however I think to get a true therapeutic experience, new challenging activities must be included

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thank you Michele for some very good questions. The activities I choose to do are based on how receptive and able I feel the child is. Many of my children are very young (between 18 months and 3 years) and a big part of therapy is having them separate from their parents. Some are afraid of the horse and others take to it right away. The older kids (over 3 years of age) are usually more willing to try more challenging activities such as standing on top of the horse more quickly, but it all depends. One almost 3 year old is terrified of lying supine on the horse but will stand on top and play with my toys.
Parents have told me that various activities have improved sitting and standing balance and gait. I often see improved speech and visual attention than they might have otherwise and I have been told that this is the only time they speak.
I have also been more daring over the years.When I started I was terrified of a child falling off and barely let them move and now I push and push. So it comes with time and experience.As far as carryover goes- I sometimes recommend that the parents do specific fine motor activitiesat home and practice holding some positions such as kneeling and quadruped on land to make them more familiar and receptive to holding these positions while on the horse. 
I can't say how much carryover there is but it is certainly good for the child and the paretn to know that they have these abilities while on the horse and that they can strive toward carryover at home.
Michelelynne15  has left a new comment on your post "Pushing Kids to Develop Skills":

Thank you for all of the great hippotherapy ideas! I am an occupational therapy graduate student and know very little about hippotherapy- I guess I have been pretty close-minded about it until now after reading your blog. Before reading your blog I pictured the children riding the horses in circles to develop self-esteem/confidence and postural stability. I never knew all of the benefits and activities involved! I am astounded from the fact that you can get the children to stand on the horses; what a fear to overcome!

We recently just finished a case about autism and just reading your posts about all of the sensory stimulation that is involved is very interesting! How long did it take you to encourage the 2 year old with gravitational insecurity to stand on the horse? Did you use any preparatory methods prior to having the child stand on the horse? How do you ensure carryover of these activities at home?-- I know horses are normally not a part of a child’s natural environment so I was wondering if the children are able to generalize the activities and continue their overcoming of gravitational insecurity into their daily lives. Thank you for any insights you can give me!

-Michele, OTS

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pushing Kids to Develop Skills

Its quite an art to push a child just enough to move out of her comfort zone and develop skills but not upset her too much. I have been having a great time with a little 2 year old with Downs syndrome who enjoys working with me and being on the horse. She tolerates positions she does not like-ones that take a great deal of postural control. She can maintain the half seat position on a hill and quadruped grasping the tack handle with total assist while I quickly sing or count to 10. She enjoys standing on top of the horse but today she squatted to place a magnet into a can opening. My goal is to have her use both hands to remove one magnet from several and then squat to insert it into the can. But for now I just hand them to her one at a time.
Another older client did this for the first time today- beautifully with very little assistance. I also helped a 2 year old stand on top of the horse today for his first time and he didn't mind at all. In fact, I was able to let go of his legs and he was fine. Next time I will give him the Velcro bottle activity to do while standing on top of the horse like this little girl is.    She is a pro! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tossing rings while prone over horse's Barrel

We all had lots of fun today, another beautiful day even though it is November.
This 5 year old was very focused while reaching for and dropping the rings over pails and is getting very comfortable (gravitationally secure) moving in this position as we weave around the pails for him to drop rings over.

He and another 4 year old did a fantastic job steering around the pails- first with physical assist to maintain a bilateral grasp on the reins,but then with only verbal cues or independently.

Walking quickly up and down a short steep hill while facing sideways was also a great trunk strengthening  and balance activity.

Hippotherapy and autism

I like how this mom explains that her son who has autism is more focused and social due to hippotherapy