Therapy With Horses Helps Overcome Obstacles

By: Jordan Shefte Email
By: Jordan Shefte Email

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A program in Derby, Kansas is using horses to change lives. It's called Flint Hills Therapeutic Riding Center, and the program helps children and adults with special needs.

Training with the horses stimulates all five senses and after time, participants see both social and physical improvements.

Riding a horse is a newly acquired skill for Michael Wurzer.
The seventeen year old is autistic and has epilepsy.

"He's had challenges growing up," said Michael's mother, Sandi Wurzer.

His shy disposition convinced his mother to bring Michael to Flint Hills, a therapy center that uses horses for treatment.

"To have something that was his own; his brothers and his sister all have their own things that they're involved with," Sandi said. "And I wanted him to have something that he could call his own and build up his self esteem."

The program helps kids and adults with emotional, mental or physical deficiencies. The interaction with the animal improves social skills, and the motion on the horse helps with the physical aspect.

"The movement of the horse is that same movement as if you were walking," said executive director Gary Sutton. "So it helps people maintain their core muscles, as well as the legs are moving and things like that ."

Michael is on his last of six sessions, and can already see an improvement. The lessons have given him practice with alternating hands, a skill that previously was difficult for him.

"He's able to take that into other skills," Sandi said. "He takes piano lessons and he's only been able to play with his right hand, and probably in the last four or five weeks he's started adding in his left hand."

While so much of Michael's life has been out of his control, horseback riding finally provides a sense of power.

"It's fabulous. It's the best feeling in the world to see your kid just do something like riding a horse all by himself," Sandi said. "The wonderful feeling that he feels at the end of the day when he knows that he did that on his own it's just, it's amazing."

The program consists of six sessions, where riders train once a week for forty-five minutes. The cost is $35 per class, or $210 for the whole six weeks.

For more information, we have a link to the program's website posted below.

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