Monday, 4 November 2013

Riding Therapy

Felix's first horse ride
Felix attended his very first RDA (Riding for the Disabled) session (an hour away from our house), just over a week ago. I wasn't sure how he would go because he had never sat on a horse before. He had refused to sit on the 'pool noodle' when he had hydrotherapy, so I thought he would probably refuse to sit on the horse as well. He had a very grumpy morning, having to do food shopping with us before his riding lesson, and was in quite a mood before we even got there. To say I was a little apprehensive, is putting it mildly.

Everyone was very welcoming when we arrived, and we finally got to meet a Mum (and her gorgeous daughter who also has DS), who I had been speaking to on Facebook for quite a long time. Felix was fitted with a riding helmet (actually a bike helmet because his head was too little for the riding ones). He didn't like the fitting process much; it involved getting the strap really tight under his chin to keep him safe. The good thing was that once the helmet was on, nice and snug, there was no way he was able to pull it off again. After his helmet was on, we walked out to meet Felix's little horse for the first time. Felix started to get pretty excited when he saw all the horses and his grumpy mood disappeared and was replaced with a smile.
With his instructors

When Felix's horse was ready for him I helped him up onto it, and then the volunteers took over while Nathan and I watched from a distance. The goal of his first lesson was to get him comfortable with the horse, but not to overwhelm him by keeping him up there for too long. He was instructed to hold onto a little handle on the front of the saddle with both hands and not let go. The instructions were short and sweet. If you hold on, the horse will walk. If you let go, the horse will stop (which isn't as much fun). Felix hung on to the instructor's arm for the first minute or so, but it didn't take long until he did what he was asked, and held on to the saddle (only letting go to brush away the flies.... we will need to get him a net to wear over his helmet so they don't bother him). I felt so proud of him, sitting up on the horse, looking so grown up. I can't wait to see his riding develop over time, and see him get stronger core strength from holding himself up on the horse.
Doing some gardening with Shaun the sheep

Felix's speech is continuing to develop in leaps and bounds over the past couple of months. He has even started putting two words together sometimes, asking me yesterday for "more eat". Even though Felix has always been very vocal, chattering away with his own language, it is so beautiful to hear his voice when he speaks. It's almost as if I have never heard him before, so it's a whole new, very exciting experience.

Felix has always loved to 'count', often going up to all the people in a room and touching them as we count. He does the same with toys and will sometimes put each of his fingers up, one at a time, and make sounds like he is counting. Yesterday, Felix was walking up some stairs. As usual, I was counting the stairs as he took each step. "One, two, three....", and all of a sudden, Felix said, "Four" as clearly as anything!!! I think I actually screamed out loud. I was so excited as I cuddled Felix and told him how clever he was, and he had a very proud grin on his face. Another very cool thing is that Felix no longer needs to hold my hand when he goes up and down stairs. Most of the time, he is able to manage them without holding on to anything. His legs have certainly got stronger and his gross motor skills are improving all the time.
New haircut and a cheeky face

Playing outside is still Felix's absolute favourite thing to do. I spent the day gardening, a few days ago, and Felix and Shaun the sheep came out to the front yard with me. We have a huge gum tree alongside our driveway, and Felix likes to walk around it, picking up leaves and sticks and playing with them. While I was busy gardening, I looked up and saw the cutest thing.... Felix and the lamb chasing each other around and around the tree. Felix was giggling and running as fast as he could, and the lamb was kicking up its' back legs and rocking his head up and down, running after him. If only I had got it on video!

No comments:

Post a Comment