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Chapter 17: Barbara—Transverse Myelitis

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Chapter Seventeen

Barbara—Transverse Myelitis

One of the purposes of this book is to inspire people to “be the best that you can be,” to quote an old familiar phrase. Barbara Lamb is the epitome of this sentiment.

In high school, Barbara won awards for her art, helped kids as a volunteer through an organization called PALS, (Peer Assistant Leadership

Service), worked as an usher at the local major league baseball field, and typed sixty words per minute on her computer.

A typical teenager? Yes. Except for one thing. She has been paralyzed from the shoulders down since the age of two.

Barbara began a hippotherapy program when she was sixteen. At first, her sidewalkers supported her back with a hand behind each shoulder.

After several rides, she gradually began to sit up straight on her own, and we only steadied her with gentle pressure on her hipbones. If she leaned too far to one side, the therapist would ask the volunteer on the opposite side to press down on her hip, which would restore her balance.

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Chapter 6: Horses

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Chapter Six

Horses

They carried us into battle. They tilled our land. They transported us. Time and high tech marched on, and they were relegated largely to our entertainment. Now horses are again called on for a vital service—to help strengthen the frail of body, and inspire the frail of mind.

The young riders, however, think of the therapy horse more in terms of a big, soft neck to nuzzle, a velvety nose to rub, and a means of having fun. Well, not only the young riders.

More than 5,000 horses on this continent are entrusted with our fragile citizens, from two-year-olds to the geriatric.

The animals that transport such precious cargo, or stand patiently while novices rub them, or pick up their feet, obviously must have the temperament and training not to spook at an unexpected noise or movement, and to respond quickly to commands.

Therapy horses must be sound. Even a slight limp will cause an uneven gait, which can be detrimental in individual cases.

A selection of sizes and shapes is necessary to meet each client’s unique requirements. For example, a rider with tight muscles and tendons in his thighs and hips needs a mount with a narrow barrel, while someone with good flexibility will get more stretching from straddling a wider back.

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Chapter 8: Recreational Riding—with profile of Amy

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Chapter Eight

Recreational Riding—with Profile of Amy

The objective of recreational riding is more toward enjoyment and social pleasure, plus learning horsemanship skills, while reaping physical and mental benefits from the horse’s motion. These riders often start with private lessons, then find it more fun to join a group where the members interact with each other.

The usual tack is a western or English saddle, although a bareback pad is occasionally used for simple vaulting type exercises. For beginning riders, reins are fastened directly onto the halter. This allows them to learn the gentle touch of reining without causing undue pressure on the horse’s mouth.

As the rider advances, his mount’s headgear consists of a bridle and bit, or hackamore, with rainbow reins attached. These reins have bilateral bands of color so the instructor can tell the rider where to hold them for a particular maneuver.

Even for advanced riders, the horse always wears a halter under the bridle. When exiting an enclosed area, such as going to and from an outdoor arena, a leader will have control with a rope snapped onto the halter. Leaving some slack in the rope allows the client to continue guiding his mount with the reins.

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Chapter 3: Origin and History

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Chapter Three

Origin and History

Therapeutic horseback riding as a structured, organized, controlled modality, is relatively recent on this continent. NARHA is only a little over thirty years old. Activities for the challenged, involving horses in ways other than riding, are gaining popularity, including mental health treatments, carriage driving and vaulting. To encompass these programs,

NARHA favors the umbrella term, equine assisted activities, in place of the exclusive designation of therapeutic riding.

The equine role in therapy is not new. I have heard that as far back as World War I, German veterans rode horseback as part of their rehabilitation.1 Helga Vogel, a pioneer of therapeutic riding in Germany, has personal knowledge of this happening after World War II.2 References to riding as therapy, back in ancient times, have been reported.

One courageous horsewoman, Liz Hartel of Denmark, is generally credited with the origin of modern therapeutic riding. Polio, contracted in 1943, left her with serious muscle deterioration, and her doctor believed she would never ride again. In 1951 she met a Norwegian physical therapist who began working with her, and the following year she entered Grand Pris Dressage at the Helsinki Olympics. Hartel won the Silver

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GLOSSARY and abdomen. It uses a large magnet to polarize hydrogen atoms in the tissue, then monitors the summation of the spinning energies within living cells.

Multiple Sclerosis: A chronic neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system with intermittent, progressive loss of the nerve sheath, myelin, not affecting peripheral nerves. Onset is usually in the third or fourth decade.

Muscular Dystrophy: A group of diseases characterized by progressive degeneration and/or loss of muscle fibers, without nervous system involvement.

NARHA: North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, P. O.

Box 33150, Denver, CO 80233, 800) 369-RIDE (7433), Fax: (303) 2524610, Email: narha@narha.org, website: http://www.narha.org

Neuromotor function: The brain’s ability to coordinate motor or muscle function.

Neuromusculoskeletal: Refers to objective factors which can be measured or observed such as range of motion, strength, reflexes, etc.; and subjective factors which cannot be measured or observed such as pain and stiffness.

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