Nicholas and Amelia sized

Gaining Strength on Horseback

When Nicholas rolls down the barn aisle in his wheelchair and is greeted by his instructor, horse and volunteers, he tilts his head back, clasps his hands in his lap and flashes a big smile. He looks forward toriding all week!

Nine years ago, he came to Fieldstone Farm to supplement his physical therapy for a neurological disorder that limits his mobility and speech. Riding has helped him gain strength, flexibility and balance while also giving him the joy, confidence and independence that comes from moving without the assistance a wheelchair or walker. Every stride the horse takes prompts him to engage his core and stretch his legs while enjoying the breeze on his face and the beauty of a ride through the woods, a place only a horse can take him.

“It’s freeing for Nicholas,” says his mom.

His physical therapist says his posture is best when sitting in a saddle and she attributes the improvement that she has seen to his riding. She is even looking for a special chair that mimics a saddle to help him sit up straighter throughout the day. His speech has improved as well. Initially, Nicholas was silent in class, but now he calls out, “walk on” and “whoa” to direct his horse around the arena.

“It makes me so happy to see him enjoying being on a horse and not worrying about his disability,” says Nicholas’s mom.