A smile from a 5 year old with Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Cooper Loves to Trot!August 30, 2010
My name is Leslie Howell and as a former employee of HorseTalk Hippotherapy I would like to share with you what a wonderful program this is. Ms. Freeman and her team are very professional and caring in what they do. They put a lot of thought into the needs of each individual patient. They treat each patient with the utmost respect and always try to make the patient feel special. I would highly recommend HorseTalk Hippotherapy and Ms. Toby Freeman to anyone in need of these type services.
It all started on a breezy day on Saturday, March 22, 2008. I had been recomended to Toby's Practice in hippo-therapy for some physical therapy-type exercise. I had been through a tough soccer season and encountered a hip injury, which caused constant irritation and pain. Along with that I had stopped soccer and missed alot of school due to a sudden chronic headache disease, as that was the diagnosis by my neurologist. With it came fatigue, the headache, and some emotional frustration at the situation.
I was a twelve year old, thirteen in just two more months, that just wanted to live and had no real hope of ever being well again. The 'friends' I had at school didn't stick by me as they didn't understand the current pain I was encountering. I was told of the equine assisted therapy program through Horsetalk and immediately all of my equestrian dreams were sparked. I was excited for us to hear back from Toby's practice, as they were overlooking an exception to our financial situation.
They took me on with a passion to help me jump back into a healthy life, and my first session was on this Saturday in March, were my world forever changed and was a fire relit by the friendship experience I gained in the Horsetalk team. From that day on we determined many things. Starting with the fact that I was an independent rider, and Toby could train me in a lesson manner. Another fact was that I really needed some social encouragement. So every Saturday I came back with a passion to do better, a goal to work toward, and a hope to get up in the morning. I soon took this to the next level and began helping as much as I physically could, by staying around, learning about the animals I once dreamed to be with and helping with the other students in whom I admired the strength they had to live life to the fullest.
After time I used the lessons from Horsetalk and spread them through my life, giving others with invisible conditions hope, and support, and spreading the word of Horsetalks unique cooperation with me. I also realized a physical benefit to riding weekly, as my muscles got stronger, I got happier and more relaxed, and I had slightly more mobility and range of motion in my legs. I was a child in whom had no luck at all in the world and suddenly I knew what to work for and why to keep living.
The Team at Horsetalk stuck with me and showed me that there are people out there who care, and they bent over backward to comfort me every week! I would wait for the phone call on Thursday to double check our appointment time and check up on my health and I couldn't barely hold back from the excitement I felt on Saturday mornings!
I am now turning 14 next month and after a year with the team feel like I know there's somewhere I belong, somewhere I can go and the pain can melt away. they have delighted the most difficult time in my life so far, the rediagnosis of Lyme Disease (in September '08) which caused my all too many symptoms. Now that I know what to work for treating, I go every week in hopes of the relief I feel for the 30 minutes on my best friends back, the horses! It is an incredibly hard treatment for this Chronic Lyme Disease condition but I have a reason to shine, reason to have hope, and I know that when I walk through the barn door saturday, I will be greeted with love, and passion as they work through this treatment with me, and whoever else I manage to direct to Horsetalk's caring arms.
I want to tell you that the day I met you as a volunteer in the barn, when you introduced me to the horses and your kids I became very encouraged about your program. Then I witnessed you in action with the horses, the interaction and caring you had for these kids, the smiles on their faces and the progress they were making was absolutely amazing. When I left the arena that morning, I realized my life had changed. The impact that you and these kids had on me, gave me a wonderful new outlook and love for life. Life is so precious and what you are doing not only improved, enhanced and enlightened these children, and their parent’s lives, it gave me a new view of life, it opened my heart, I was able to see the love and goodness that is all around me. I thank you Toby, for the experience and opportunity to be part of this remarkable program. My life is better and so are the children’s lives that you lovingly touch.
You are truly amazing!!!
" I give to HorseTalk Hippotherapy because I believe it helps the kids. And the kids are our future. We need them to be happy and healthy.
So, ride a horse and you will be amazed !"
Contributor to HorseTalk
"My children have Angelman's Syndrome which greatly impacts their ability to speak. After 6 months of Hippotherapy with Toby, my children have increased their vocabulary by at least 20% and my daughter is now able to say her name, Madison. Their teachers have noticed significant improvement in speech, motor and attention span. I truly believe Hippotherapy made a difference with my children. The also LOVE going to ride the horses so it's a fun adventure for them."
John V.Riso Executive Vice President Commercial/ Corporate Accounts
From the mother of a young eight year old patient:
" I didn't realize how much "multi-tasking" would take place with hippotherapy. I was also amazed that my son, cued by Toby, would mimic Cassie's ( the horse ) rhythm with his speech and feel empowered on Cassie's back to better project his voice with correct articulation. His speech production improved greatly with better posture on Cassie, a skill that has carried over to his work in Toby's office."
From an eight year old low tone child:
" I can't wait for the next time I can ride Cassie. I have learned to sit up straight on her and how to sit when she stops and starts moving. I like to go there and talk to Toby."
" Horseback riding is the best thing ever!!! Who would have thought a horse could make a boy so happy?"
As told to his mom by an 11 year old Asperger's patient
WOW, I can't believe the difference in Becky after HIPPO, what a different child!
Becky is a five year old with Cystic Fibrosis and significant developmental delay
"I'm in my horsey heaven!"
11 year old Aspergers male right after his hippotherapy session.
" I want go horse go"
Bella, a six year old with autism and seizure disorder, uttered her first sentence ever during a hippotherapy session.
I want to thank you for the many hours that I have enjoyed watching Wednesday's Child. You have brought to all of New England some good and gracious news about our happy and courageous children. It is always an uplifting and pleasant moment in my day when I sit and watch such touching pieces. You have put your heart and soul into these kids and I commend you for what you have accomplished and how many children you have made happy.
I have something very important I want to share with you. There is another person that has accomplished a lot along these lines and has made many children and their families very, very happy. This person is Toby Freeman who lives in Bedford, NH, she is a speech pathologist and therapist who works with children and adults with developmental problems 6 days a week. She has been in this field for almost 30 years and is considered an expert in her field. She has an office practice in Bedford, NH and offers hippotherapy at a Van Guard Stables in Bow, NH.
I had the opportunity to volunteer with her for awhile as a side walker in her hippotherapy program. Hippotherapy is a tool which uses horses to promote stimulation to the child's nervous system, their muscles, breathing, brain, balance and most importantly, their sense of enjoyment. Her success is astonishing and the progress of her patients is just amazing. She has a physical therapist on her staff that works next to her so the child's other physical issues can be addressed at the same moment. I have witnessed non verbal kids who are speaking within a few weeks. Watching her patients grow in muscle tone and become more stable. I see the confidence and happiness on their faces. I will say again, it is truly amazing! She IS a miracle worker and that can be verified by the parents of these great kids.
Toby's goal is to bring this program to as many children as she possibly can. She works with the parents who are less able to afford her services, finding scholarships, grants and even providing the services for almost nothing. Her heart is in her work, her kids and her passion is to help as many as she can.
Please take a look at Toby's web page, http://nhhorsetalk.com it will give you a good understanding of how the program works and how she uses it to improve the lives of so many kids. And please talk to Toby, she wants to spread this message to as many as she can. She is very articulate, knowledgeable and will have a lot of wonderful things to share with you.
Please consider Toby as a feature on Wednesday's child. I feel confident that her message and her passion will touch the hearts of many and will give hope to many parents of these wonderful children.