ELBURN – Amidst daily riders and horse shows, Bull Run Equestrian Center in Elburn offers an unique opportunity – one that allows children with an array of diagnoses to find a bright spot in their week.
Hippotherapy is a type of physical and occupational therapy that uses the three-dimensional movement of a horse as a treatment tool.
In 2012, physical therapist Loren Gineris began a practice at Bull Run Equestrian Center called Strides In Motion. Strides In Motion includes hippotherapy, along with clinic-based treatments.
More than developmental and physical progress can come from weekly therapy sessions at the equestrian center, Gineris said.
"The horse provides not only the three-dimensional movement that helps so much with strength, range of motion and developmental progress, but the horse also ... there is such a connection between the client and the horse," Gineris said.
Gineris can be found at the stable serving a variety of children and adults whose diagnoses span across the spectrum.
While each client differs in his or her capabilities, they are all united in their love for their horse. This love and connection that is fostered between a client and the horse is what make hippotherapy so effective and enjoyable. The connection also is one that Gineris uses to push her clients to go that extra inch.
The horse is an extremely motivating tool, and kids will do anything for their horse, said Gineris, adding that she will go outside with a client and work on reaching down and picking up grass and picking flowers – things that if she was in a clinic and had blocks, the kids would do it three or four times and would throw them or get bored, she said.
Strides In Motion is not typical horseback riding. Gineris has clients doing activities while on the horse, such as tossing a ball, placing rings around a pole and squatting. Physical therapy also is included in activities, like bathing the horses, obstacle courses and drawing.
"So often these clients come to us as pediatrics ... they've only been in very sterile environments – they've been in hospitals. They love coming to this facility; it's gorgeous. The wind's blowing in their face; they hear horses; there's flowers; there's grass; and then there's the horse."