When Dillon was one, he was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a catastrophic form of epilepsy that involves long-term complicated management of his seizures. This syndrome has resulted in global developmental delays. Despite his struggles, Dillon is a loving, hardworking, charismatic boy who was referred to Lovelane by his neurologist with the goal of supporting him to “get the most out of life.” At Lovelane, he has found this path. When Dillon is astride a moving horse, he is receiving the gross motor stimulation that he desperately needs, AND just as importantly, he is joyful, confident, focused, and present. He takes to this activity like no other and it has transformed his life. While on his horse, Dillon works hard on his gait, core strength, motor and communication skills. Dillon is working on his verbal skills, although while riding a horse he has no trouble expressing his joy and delight. He engages with his instructors, sidewalkers and especially his horse. A parent’s greatest wish is to see their child thrive. Lovelane has given us this opportunity with our five-year-old son, Dillon.
Ollie was just two years old when he started riding at Lovelane. He was navigating his pediatric walker for mobility and experiencing low muscle tone and a weak core that is typically found in children with Down Syndrome. He also had fine motor, cognitive, and speech difficulties. At Lovelane, with the help of the horses and his volunteers, Ollie’s instructor, Debby, focused on strengthening his core through physical exercises, and integrating speech therapy through song and sign language. Then, at age four, Ollie said his first sentence while at Lovelane, “I want more fast please!” Now, with a growing number of words and signs, Ollie can express what he wants, ask for what he needs, and communicate at home. Since beginning his weekly therapeutic riding sessions at Lovelane, Ollie has become stronger physically, more socially-engaged, and aware of his abilities—expanding his world of possibilities. Ollie’s confidence has increased dramatically; he is determined to succeed. His motivation has led him to walk independently, tackle the stairs in his house, and climb the slide at the park. There’s no stopping him now!
Reese has a genetic disorder known as Phelan-McDermid syndrome. It affects her development most noticeably in her speech and muscle tone. Reese started taking therapeutic riding lessons at Lovelane. Now, seven years later, with confidence and strength, she tells the horse to “go fast please” and sits tall when riding. The bond between Reese and her therapists has built a trusting and heartwarming relationship that pushes Reese to succeed with each challenge.
Born with cerebral palsy, twenty-one year old Delaney, or “Dee” as she is known at Lovelane, has been riding at Lovelane since she was two years old. Every week Dee enthusiastically guides her electric wheelchair up the mounting ramp eager to get on her horse. Being on a horse allows Dee to feel the movements associated with how “normal” walking would feel.
Finn is very happy about the lessons. I can really see his core getting stronger and more confidence each time. He seems to really enjoy independent riding. I think it helps him practice his listening and concentration skills. I have really seen such a positive improvement in his sense of self too. You are doing a great job!