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Chapter 25: Andrew—Infantile Strokes, Possible DPT Reaction

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Chapter Twenty-Five

Andrew—Infantile Strokes,

Possible DPT Reaction

Andrew Levy first had surgery when he was seven, to stretch his right hamstring and heel cord. Six years later, another surgery was performed, a heel fusion to stabilize his foot. About three months after the hamstring surgery, as soon as the cast came off, Andrew began hippotherapy, and he has been riding ever since.

“The doctor said it is usually necessary to repeat the first operation at the age of fourteen to sixteen, in similar situations,” Andrew’s mother, Elisabeth Livingstone, said. “The process of growth tightens the cord, pulling the heel up. But at fifteen, Andrew is still walking flat, with no evidence of the hamstring tightening. He just had his eighteen-month check-up and the orthopedist said his foot looks great. This followed a growth spurt in which he went up almost two sizes in pants,” Livingstone said. “I know riding keeps the muscle stretched out.”

Healthy and strong as a baby, at four months Andrew could literally do push-ups, to the extent of lifting his chest off the bed. At his fourmonth check-up he was pronounced completely normal and healthy. It was also time for his second diptheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccination. After receiving the shot at the public health clinic, he fell asleep in the car and upon arriving home, his mother put him down for a nap.

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GLOSSARY ing the people, animals, nature, and situations therein, emphasizing emotional, mental, social, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Frog (horse anatomy): Wedge-shaped substance in the sole of the hoof which acts as a cushion.

Gerontology: The scientific study of the process and problems of aging.

Hackamore: Circular device fitting around a horse’s muzzle, an alternative to a metal bit in his mouth, by which the rider communicates signals.

Half-halt: With a rider mounted, the horse is slowed almost to a stop, and then abruptly urged back to normal speed.

Harrington Rod Insertion: A procedure to stabilize the spine by fusing together two or more vertebrae, using either metal (Harrington) rods or bone grafts.

Hemispherectomy: Excision of one cerebral hemisphere, undertaken due to intractable (not adequately controlled by medication) epilepsy, and other cerebral conditions.

Hippotherapy: From the Greek word for horse, hippos, literally meaning therapy with the aid of a horse.

Infantile Spasms: Brief (typically one to five seconds) seizures occurring in clusters of two to one hundred at a time, with possibly dozens of episodes per day.

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Chapter 4: Instructors and Therapists

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Chapter Four

Instructors and Therapists—

The people who make it work

Imagine how scary it might be for a young rider, way up there on that huge horse, higher off the ground than he’s ever sat before, feeling motion he has never known before. Then think how the parents feel.

It must be traumatic for them to see their precious young guy or gal, of whom they are so protective, helped onto this great animal and led away, perhaps out of their sight.

From what I have observed, these riders are in the best of care.

I have personally worked with more than a dozen instructors or therapists and they are without a doubt the most capable, caring, giving, dedicated group of people I’ve ever known.

Watching instructors from various NARHA centers readying their charges to compete at Special Olympics one day, these words came to mind—they are a breed apart. While so many of us are busy “going for the gold” for ourselves, these people are helping others “go for it.” They are very protective of their riders, who respond to them with obvious affection. They may not get rich in this field. Their reward is the satisfaction of watching a child take a step, or speak for the first time; an adult walk without crutches; a grateful parent telling of new things a rider is accomplishing at home; the delight on a competitor’s face.

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Chapter 2: Benefits

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Chapter Two


The benefits of equine assisted activities (EAA) or therapeutic riding, though numerous and varied, can be grouped into four categories: physical, psychological, functional (cognitive), and educational.


Because a horse’s gait closely emulates that of a human, horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a manner comparable to walking. We all know how important walking is; experts say it is the only exercise we need if it is done consistently.

The most measurable effects from the way a horse’s motion moves the body include: greater strength and agility, improved balance and posture, weight-bearing ability, improved circulation, respiration, and metabolism. No other modality mimics the walking gait of a human and stimulates virtually every movement system in the body.

Walking takes more than muscles. It takes balance, a delicate coordination of different parts of the body and brain. Riding a horse allows the brain to practice correct walking movement patterns, giving not only the muscles an opportunity to experience the motion, but also the vestibular system, particularly for a person who moves very little.

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Chapter 16: Brandon—Cerebral Palsy

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Chapter Sixteen

Brandon—Cerebral Palsy

One day while I sat in the reception room to get a respite from the

Texas heat in the arena, the front door opened. A beautiful lady with dark curls and a ready smile entered, pushing a wheelchair in which sat a frail teenager with his arms around a little boy perched in his lap.

Instructor Tracy Winkley1 came in from her office, greeted them and introduced herself.

“I’m Melissa Turner,” the lady replied. “This is my son Brandon

Barnette and his little brother, Nathan.”

“Hi guys,” Tracy said as Nathan slid to the floor and joined his mother on the couch. “Do you think you’d like to ride a horse, Brandon?”

“Umm, yes,” Brandon said tentatively, his eyes wide as he glanced around at his mother and brother.

“How old are you?” Tracy asked.


“My, you’re a tall fellow for your age,” she said, kneeling in front of his chair. “Can you stand on your own?”

Brandon shook his head.

“Not without a lot of help,” Turner said.

“Okay, Brandon, let’s check you over so we can see which one of our horses will suit you best,” Tracy said. She gently tugged one leg to straighten it. “Tell me when you feel this.” She repeated the process with his other leg.

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