Sophia began riding with us in the Fall of 2016. Sophia had difficulty making eye contact when talking and staying focused. At the time of her riding evaluation, her mother reported difficulty controlling her energy and emotions, as well as challenges controlling her hands which resulted in profound handwriting deficiencies. At some point, Sophia’s mom was told by the Occupational Therapist to give up on proficient handwriting as a goal, that it was just too difficult for her to hold a pencil. Sophia’s mom also mentioned the desire to help Sophia increase her attention span and ability to focus. The short term goals set for Sophia by the evaluator were to learn to use her hands quietly and smoothly, and to meet and talk to a new friend. Sophia’s long term goals were to ride independently and to compete in shows.
It didn’t take long for Sophia to accomplish her goal of competing in shows and at Top Hands this year she won a buckle in her English Equitation class. She is also able to focus consistently so that she rides with the lead rope tied up for a good portion of the class. Learning to post the trot is her next riding goal.
This past April, Sophia’s mom stopped in the office to ask if they could change their ride time for the Fall Semester. When I inquired about the change, she shared with me that Sophia has made tremendous leaps and bounds since she began riding. She shared that Sophia’s focus has improved and did within the first 6 weeks of riding. Mom has observed a much greater ability to follow directions. Additionally, she reported that Sophia’s ability to hold a pencil has grown and her handwriting has not only improved, but blossomed to a point that it is legible and getting smaller continually. She also reported that her social skills and confidence had blossomed. Mom also reported that Sophia began speaking conversationally after she began riding. All of these improvements mean that Sophia’s family has decided that she is ready for public school next year!
As Sophia and her mom left to have pizza with Sophia’s friend from class, she said to me “therapeutic riding is simply magical.”