Hippotherapy offers a lasting, positive impact on children with cerebral palsy.
Children who suffer from the frequent spasms and muscle tensing that come with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy can be helped with hippotherapy, according to research sponsored by the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF). What is even better is that those positive changes can last for months after hippotherapy treatments end!
The initial question was whether hippotherapy could improve head/trunk stability and upper extremity function in children with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. The study was conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine’s Program in Occupational Therapy.
The researchers looked at the ability of the children to keep the head and upper trunk relatively still while the pelvis was in rhythmic motion.
It was found that hippotherapy improved dynamic stability and head control in the children with cerebral palsy. The children also performed better when tested on touching a target when seated on a stool.
Perhaps one of the most astounding parts of this research was that the significant changes in all of those studied areas were maintained for 12 weeks after the hippotherapy ceased.
The persistence of those positive changes—even when the child with cerebral palsy was no longer receiving hippotherapy treatment—suggests that the motor control improvements learned on a horse might serve as a foundation upon which to build improved functional skills in other aspects of the child’s life.
You can learn more about the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF) and support ongoing research by visiting HorsesandHumans.org. The mission of the Horses and Humans Research Foundation is to provide scientific research that explores the claimed—but as-yet scientifically unsubstantiated—benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapies.
Original article was published in EQUUS Magazine by Kimberly S. Brown.
Contact Positive Strides to learn more about our Hippotherapy program.
A recent study found that PTSD scores dropped 87 percent after just six weeks of therapeutic horsemanship sessions.
Spoiler: The moral of the story is never underestimate the power of horses.
By some estimates, more than 23 million military veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) each year, described by Rebecca Johnson as “an anxiety disorder that occurs after exposure to life-threatening events or injuries and is marked by flashbacks, avoidance, and changes in beliefs and feelings.”
While counseling and behavior therapies are often prescribed to help treat the symptoms of PTSD, complementary therapies like therapeutic horseback riding (THR) have also been put into play. Johnson, a professor in the University Of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine and the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing in the Sinclair School of Nursing, was interested in exploring how useful THR could be in treating PTSD. And thus, the study “Effects of therapeutic horseback riding on post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans” was born.
Working with a nearby Veterans Administration (VA) hospital, 29 military veterans suffering from PTSD were introduced to a THR program once a week for six weeks. In these sessions, they learned basic horsemanship skills and completed tasks on horseback. The hour-long classes consisted of grooming and interacting with the horse before riding, applying the riding tack to the horse, then riding with a horse leader. They also had side walkers until they were capable and comfortable enough to ride alone.
Positive Strides will host the Jaime Lee Hutchison Memorial Horse Show on Saturday, June 8, 2019 starting at 9:00 a.m. at Timber Grove Farm, 6292 Statum Road in Preston, Maryland.
“We will be showcasing the wonderful work our riders have accomplished during the Spring Session,” said Kim Hopkins, executive director of Positive Strides. “They begin each six-week session with specific goals and we do our best to help them achieve them.”
Riders will compete in a trail class and a barrel race. A recognition ceremony will be held at noon.
The public is invited to attend free of charge. Donations are welcomed and appreciated. Food will be available for purchase on site.
The series is held in loving memory of Jaime Lee Hutchison who tragically lost her battle with cancer in 2017.
Pictured: A happy competitor and his horse after the medal ceremony last fall.
We are excited to announce that we have two new horse sponsors!
Sue Simmons met our horses at Positive Strides' “Big Reveal” event and fell in love with Reds. So much so, that she decided to become a Silver Sponsor.
Margot McConnel wanted to help us offset the cost of monthly horse care by sponsoring Clacky as a Bronze Sponsor.
“Our horses are the single most important part of our therapy programs,” said Kim Hopkins, executive director. “Their gifts will help us continue to provide high quality care for our magnificent horses, Reds and Clacky. We can’t thank Sue and Margot enough!”
Lakota, Pumpkin and Rudy still need sponsors. See their profiles on our About Us page.
Do you want to support our horses in a big way? Become a Premier Sponsor and we’ll acknowledge you on our website, social media and a plaque at the stables.
Diamond Sponsor - $6,000/year or $550/month
Gold Sponsor - $2,500/year or $208.35/month
Silver Sponsor - $1,000/year or $83.35/month
Bronze Sponsor - $500/year or $41.70/month
Our monthly cost per horse is $550; that does not include incidentals such as veterinary, dental or hoof care. Please contact Kim Hopkins at email@example.com if you have questions about our sponsor packages.
Positive Strides is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and your donations are tax-deductible.
On Saturday, May 4, nine of us from Positive Strides had a fun evening attending Trotting 4 Charity at Rosecroft Raceway. We cheered on our favorite driver, Frank Milby, who chose Positive Strides Therapeutic Riding Center as his charity.
A huge thank you to Gina Maybee of Rosecroft Raceway (pictured with Gaige above). She pulled out all of the stops to make our group feel warmly welcomed. And to Frank Milby who so generously chose our charity. Frank managed to win the Positive Strides race for us and two of our riders were able to take a drive with Frank on the race track. What an amazing experience for all of us!
Thanks to Best Bet Photos for supplying the video of one of our riders going around the track with Frank Milby.
Trotting 4 Charity is an event where drivers from harness tracks across North America wear a customized jersey with the logo of a non-profit that they have chosen, during the live race card. Our jersey will be raffled off and the proceeds from the raffle will go directly to Positive Strides. The raffle will be May 14th and 15th. More details to come.
We want to thank everyone who participated in the success of our Spring Classic Bike Ride on April 13. Over 250 riders and volunteers braved the early morning rain to support our biggest fundraiser of the year.
The event required extensive planning and preparation led by Tara Felts, Martha Russell, Jean Schneebeli and Meg Stein. Members of the Positive Strides’ board of directors and a group of dedicated volunteers were critical to the success of the event. We had volunteer cookie bakers, goodie bag stuffers, sign pounders, sponsor finders, equipment and supply checkers, shoppers, list makers, registration takers, food servers, SAG drivers, set up and clean up people, and all purpose helpers.
Thanks to the wonderful riders; those who were new this year and those who return year after year to support us. We received lots of positive feedback. A couple of favorites:
Due to the generosity of our sponsors, we offset many of our expenses and raised much-needed funds to provide life-changing therapy to residents of the Eastern Shore with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges. All of the proceeds of the Spring Classic go directly to supporting Positive Strides programs. Our equine-assisted activities and therapies help young children, teens, adults, veterans and seniors build their confidence, self-esteem, feelings of competency and independence.
We've seen the positive results of using therapeutic riding to improve the lives of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A recent study by a research team at Slipper Rock University is helping assign empirical evidence to the value of therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities in reducing stress levels of adolescents with ASD. The following is an excerpt from an article on their findings.
"We are thrilled with the results of this study," said Pam Cusick, board president of Horses and Humans Research Foundation, a nonprofit, non-endowed foundation that awarded the SRU research team $88,000 to conduct the study. "Adolescents with autism spectrum disorder report high stress and anxiety levels that impact functioning in the community. We are pleased to see confirmation that therapeutic riding has a positive impact on stress levels and hope that this research will encourage more adolescents with autism to consider therapeutic riding as an option."
Also making the study possible were contributions from the research team that included three coinvestigators, Deborah Hutchins, associate professor of parks, conservation and recreational therapy; Courtney Gramlich, manager of the Storm Harbor Equestrian Center; and Steffanie Burk, an equine scientist at Otterbein University. In addition to collecting saliva and heart rate results from humans in the study, samples and data from horses were also collected to detect correlations.
"The research is important to see the true effects that therapeutic riding can have," Gramlich said. "This could help programs like ours across the country. We've been getting phone calls from people reading about the benefits that we saw from the research and they are asking questions and wanting to do similar things. We say riding gives you so many great benefits but until we have measurable results that we can document, (people) won't 100-percent believe it."
To learn how Positive Strides helps people with ASD and other specific diagnoses, see our Hippotherapy brochure or visit our Services page.
Pictured: April is National Autism Awareness Month. The Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognized symbol of the autism community in the world.
We are thrilled to announce that Choptank Electric Cooperative is a Silver Sponsor of our therapy horse, Reds. Through their Operation Round Up grant, they are helping to offset the cost of his daily care.
Reds loves to be groomed and will stand very still while being brushed and loved on. He's a chestnut Quarter Horse gelding who is in his mid-twenties. Before coming to us, he was a ranch horse and gave riding lessons. Reds is very gentle and loves people.
Thank you to Choptank Electric Cooperative for your sponsorship! To learn more about our herd and how to sponsor a horse, go to About Us.
Welcome to Positive Strides, formerly known as Talbot Special Riders. In October 2018, the board of directors voted unanimously to change the organization’s name to better reflect who we are and how we benefit our riders.
We use horses to provide life-changing therapy to residents of the Eastern Shore with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges. Our programs help young children, teens, adults, veterans and seniors build their confidence, self-esteem, feelings of competency and independence.
From autism and addiction recovery to PTSD and cerebral palsy, equine therapy can play a powerful role in giving a person the confidence and skills they need to live a fulfilling life. Our CATCH Rider program helps youth at risk and adults recovering from family violence and sexual abuse. Just brushing and interacting with a horse can calm a person with dementia or help someone with depression.
As a nonprofit, we rely on the generosity of our donors, corporate sponsors and volunteers to continue our work. We can’t thank you enough for helping us help some of the most vulnerable people in our community. In 2018, we:
With your help, we plan to offer more equine-assisted programs and activities in 2019 and beyond. Please consider making a pledge to donate or volunteer today. You can do it right here, on our website.
Also, follow us on Facebook where we post our latest news and events.
PRESTON, MD - February 28, 2019 - Talbot Special Riders is pleased to announce a charitable contribution in the amount of $3,000 from the Frederick Family Foundation. Jeff Frederick, vice president and general manager of Fred Frederick Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, presented the check to Kim Hopkins, executive director of Talbot Special Riders.
“We rely on the generosity of donors like the Fred Frederick Family Foundation to continue our work,” said Hopkins. “They have been a loyal supporter of Talbot Special Riders. Their donation allows us to help individuals benefit from the healing therapies of our programs. We can’t thank them enough.”
Kim and Ashley Hopkins
The latest news and insights from our executive director, board of directors and industry experts.
© 2019 Positive Strides, Inc.