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  • Kathy's Dream MS Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program Kathy's Dream MS Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program


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Mission Statement

"Kathy's Dream" Multiple Sclerosis Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program @Fairview Farms JJC, LTD. 121 Haynes Hill Road, Brimfield, MA 01010 Mission Statement

Our mission is to empower and improve the minds, bodies and spirits of people living with Multiple Sclerosis who have, but are not limited to, cognitive, psychological and physical disabilities through the benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding. While doing so, we are committed to ensuring the safety of each rider and providing an inspirational environment for learning, breaking down barriers to achievement, as well as providing Hope for the future of each participant.

We will meet weekly on the same day at the same time for one hour for a period of 10 weeks. We are requesting that the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation grant the amount of tuition of $20.00 per class/hour per participant to be remitted to Fairview Farms JJC, Inc. for a minimum of 5 students and a maximum of 8 students, upon acceptance of Program and receipt and review of required MSF Forms for each participant. Respectfully Submitted, June 3, 2010, by: Victoria Brown, Licensed Instructor Krystine Oconnor, Owner/Fairview Farms, JJC, Inc. Kathleen Casey, Advocate and Facilitator *Grant provided by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation/funds released 9/2/10


Proposal and Overview of Program

Horseback riding for the disabled is recognized as one of the more progressive forms of therapy. The ability to control a horse as well as one's own body inspires self-confidence, responsibility and teamwork. Best of all, it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, which creates a special relationship between rider and horse and promotes personal challenges.

In our program, individualized plans will implement the use of adaptive devices and equipment depending on each individual's needs. Safety is always a matter of concern that is addressed throughout each stage of the program. As we meet with the individuals prior to the beginning of our program, we will assess the needs of each and adapt saddles, mounting equipment, and any other issues that need to be addressed, such as footwear, helmets, cooling devices and any other support an individual needs.

Each class is taught by a highly qualified, Licensed Instructor. ** Our Plan includes the implementation of experienced volunteers working under the supervision of the Licensed Instructor, with each rider and horse. As the Program begins, each horse will be led by means of a lead line attached to a halter by one volunteer, and a side walker will walk on either side of the rider and horse to assist with mounting, adjusting stirrup's, balance, stretching, and providing a feeling of security as the rider become more familiar with their horse and with the riding experience.**

As riders become more experienced and confident, they will begin to be able to control their horse by holding the reins attached to a bridle and bit in the horse's mouth.

Pre-stretching prior to mounting the horse is done with simple gentle easy stretches, as well as learning relaxation techniques that will help put rider more "in tune" to their surroundings and open to the relationship with their horse. It also is most helpful prior to the process of mounting the horses saddle, where un-stretched muscled might become suddenly spastic due to the uncustomary posture. Further stretching is accomplished while on the horse as the rider is walked around an enclosed arena at the beginning and progresses throughout the duration of the 10 week period to where most riders can ride independently at a walk/trot level.

The following is a synopsis of "Horseback Riding in Motion".

  • ยท Sitting on a horse stretches the adductor muscles of the thighs. Gravity helps to stretch the muscles in front of the leg as the rider sits on the horse without stirrups. Riding with stirrups, heels level or down, helps to stretch the heel cords and calf muscles. Stomach and back muscles are stretched, as the rider is encouraged to maintain an upright posture against the movement of the horse. Arm and hand muscles are stretched as part of routine exercises on the horse and by the act of holding and using the reins.
  • Spasticity is reduced by the rhythmic motion of the horse. The warmth of the horse may aid in relaxation, especially of the legs. Sitting astride a horse helps to break up extensor spasms of the lower limbs. Holding the reins helps to break flexor spasm patterns of the upper limbs. As the horse moves, the riders body is subtly thrown off balance, requiring that the rider's muscles to contract and relax in an attempt to rebalance. This exercise reaches deep muscles not accessible in conventional physical therapy. The three-dimensional rhythmical movement of the horse is similar to the motion of walking, teaching rhythmical patterns to the muscles of the legs and trunk. By placing the rider in different positions on the horse (therapeutic vaulting), we can work different sets of muscles. Stopping and starting the horse, changing speed and changing direction increase the benefits.
  • As spasticity is reduced, range of motion increases. Range of motion is also improved by the act of mounting and dismounting, tacking up, grooming, and exercises during lessons.
  • Muscles are strengthened by the increased use involved in riding. Even though riding is exercise, it is perceived as enjoyment, and therefore the rider has increased tolerance and motivation to lengthen the period of exercise.

Riding a horse requires a great deal of coordination in order to get the desired response from the horse. Since the horse provides instant feedback to every action by the rider, it is easy to know when you have given the correct cue. Repetition of patterned movements required in controlling a horse quickens the reflexes and aids in motor planning.

From the beginning, riders learn balance, coordination and self-assurance, while receiving therapeutic muscle stimulation as poise, posture, strength and flexibility improve. A strong sense of responsibility develops as the rider learns to take part in the care of the horses and equipment. Advanced equestrian skills, teamwork and cooperation are learned as the rider becomes independent on horseback, by the end of their 10 week introductory program.



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