Hippo-therapy and MS

I have added a new activity to my repertoire! Therapeutic horseback riding or hippo-therapy! Have you heard of it before? I certainly had not. Though I live in the south, riding horses was never on my radar. Certainly, not since multiple sclerosis joined this party.

I was watching the news one evening and saw a story that said horse back riding strengthens not only your core muscles but also those used for walking. That was all I needed to hear! I yelled to no one in particular, “Sign me up!”

I learned that the curve of the horse’s back and the horse’s movements make them ideal for therapy. Simply sitting on the horse can stretch hip joints, reduce pain, and spasticity. Get this. The horse’s pelvis mimics our pelvis; in turn the horse’s walk simulates the way we walk. Moreover, while riding, the movement of the rider’s hips can increase flexibility and muscle tone, in the legs.

In the long run this could reduce reliance on muscle relaxants.

How are your coordination, balance, and posture? Horse back riding can address all of these concerns. Not to leave out that simply learning a new skill can help fortify self-esteem and well-being.

Now here is where I ran into my first speed bump. The center I found locally was set up for those of us with disabilities, but typically had young riders. After completing the necessary paperwork, I showed up to a class of only me! Which for my first class wasn’t bad, but I guess I wanted a little company.

I expected it to be costly, but the center was obviously subsidized, because it only cost me 25 bucks for 45 minutes! I must add though that at first, I could only last 20 minutes! Now, after nearly a little over a month I’m up to the full 45! But I still want company.

I began attending National MS Society meetings for the sheer purpose of rounding up more riders and sharing with others the fact that I had found something we can do. It always bothers me to hear someone say, if I can do it, you can to!” The only reason I excused myself is because when I enter a room of MSer’s, I’m usually one of, if not the most physically disabled.

They have an awesome ramp there that allows the horses to walk right up to my wheelchair after I have ascended the ramp. Someone hands me my helmet, then my husband helps me out of my chair onto the horse’s back. A volunteer helps place my western saddle and someone else places my legs in stirrups.

They again make sure I’m seated safely and correctly and we’re off!

Usually, the next day I’m pretty tired.  Next time I plan on taking my muscle relaxants after riding. After all, I do not want to relax my core too much before the ride…right?

Long story short Google therapeutic horseback riding near you!

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