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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Horses provide therapy options for kids with disabilities in Illinois: June 2011

PLEASANT HILL, ILL. -- There are many therapy options for children with disabilities, but one that's proving to be especially beneficial is horseback riding.

Every Thursday in June and July, children strap on their helmets and saddle-up in Pleasant Hill.

The Mounted Angels organization teaches the kids more than just how to ride a horse.

Mounted Angels has provided a very unique opportunity to children in the Tri-States for 22 years. One of those children is Jacob Flynn. He has cerebral palsy and is confined to his wheelchair.

"His doctor had wanted him to ride horses to strengthen his back and to make him sit up better," said Jacob's mother Cherry.

"Riding a horse is real helpful, especially for a child who doesn't walk normally. The gate of the horse, the rhythm, helps them feel that motion, and actually helps them build that upper body strength that they wouldn't have gotten otherwise," said Mounted Angels coordinator Martha Sheppard.

The lessons also are good for kids with behavioral disabilities. Mounted Angels coordinator Martha Sheppard sees a lot of progress in kids' focus.

"When we ask them to do something the first lesson or two, they may not try to do it. Then, by the second or third lesson, they may start trying. You also see some relaxation from the rhythm of the horse sometimes and they get excited about it too," said Mounted Angels coordinator Martha Sheppard.

"It's really wonderful because he loves to ride the horses, and it's really helped him a lot. He's met a lot of good friends down here. So, we have a good time," says Cherry.

Mounted Angels is free for those with a doctors note saying they can participate.

Saturday at the Brown County Fair Grounds, Pathfinders ABATE of Illinois will put on a Mounted Angels Fun Run.

All of the proceeds will benefit Mounted Angels.

You can sign up at Hard Times 2 in Camp Point at 10 a.m.

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