Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and Tuberous Sclerosis were not in our vocabulary. They are now.
My husband, John, and I have four children, two of whom participate at LifeStriders. Each week we are amazed at their progress, in particular, our four year old son, Matthew, who has Tuberous Sclerosis.
When Matthew was eight months old he began having infantile spasms which are devastating to the brain. Matthew behaved like a healthy baby but once he began having these seizures he was literally taken away from us. He was completely non reactive to his environment.
Slowly Matthew started coming back to life but he still wasn’t the same. He has significant delays particularly in his speech and language. I had never heard of therapeutic riding but Matthew’s OT insisted he would be a great candidate.
We decided to have both Katie, my six year old daughter, and Matthew participate. Katie, after having three open heart surgeries, has poor core strength and is generally low tone. Matthew, as mentioned, has global delays.
After a few weeks of riding we noticed significant changes in Matthew. He was now quick to respond to comments and questions no longer requiring a lot of time to process information. He also began speaking in sentences and with greater detail.
We began to see a different Matthew. We now have a spunky little boy with a terrific sense of humor who is a bit mischievous at times and has an incredible memory.
LifeStriders has been a gift to us. We have all learned about riding and its benefits. Katie and Matthew love to ride and they talk about their horses. We have met the most wonderful volunteers who are knowledgeable and kind, and even know when to give tenacious Katie a little sass.
Our family has a new word to add to our vocabulary - LifeStriders. We cannot adequately express our gratitude for everything LifeStriders has given us. Katie is stronger and Matthew is back. They gave me my little baby back. I have my little boy. Thank you.
- Michelle McCardle - Matthew's and Katie's Mother
I had only one goal that first day. I wanted Ryan to get close to a horse. Not touch or ride but just close enough without screaming in fear. My son Ryan was born 3 ½ months early with Cerebral Palsy to his left side of his body. He was 2- 1/2 years old and our Physical Therapist recommended we try therapeutic horse riding to strengthen his torso and possibly help him start to walk. Ryan seemed scarred of everything at that age. Noises, parking lots, dogs, and trucks seemed to panic him. I doubted he would even get near a big horse much less get on it and ride.
I held him in my arms and approached the line of horses that Veronica was assigning to riders. Ryan started to panic and point in the other direction. Veronica said ”hand him to me and go inside the barn”. I looked around behind me and said “who me?” Ryan is going to freak without me. I handed him to her and as I walked away, she put him on that horse and he rode away without crying and without a scream. I stood inside the barn, looking out a small glass window as Ryan rode around. I had a knot in my throat. I was afraid he would see me and I would ruin it. I stood there the whole hour just amazed.
If you have a child with a disability, you know how I felt that day. I am so impressed with the professionalism of everyone at Lifestriders. It is such a warm, loving environment. Ryan has ridden for 3-1/2 years. He has his favorite horses and so many friends. He always looks forward to riding. It not only helped Ryan walk but gave him confidence that he “can do it.”
I can’t thank you enough LifeStriders.
- Ryan's Dad