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The flip side of equine therapy

Just after I finished gushing about the joy of equine therapy, K was thrown in a rather dramatic fall. I saw it from far away, and everything seemed to freeze. I remember she appeared to do some sort of somersault or flip and landed on her back. She also hit her head at some point, but the helmet seemed to have done its job. At the time, I was focused on getting her through it. She was hysterical at first, but didn’t go into shock, and listened to her riding instructor who talked to her about why it may have happened, that something must have scared the horse.

I didn’t run directly to her when she fell. I watched, but can’t understand why I didn’t move. Maybe I didn’t want to freak her out. But as soon as she called for me, I came running, and sat and held her while she calmed down. She complained of pain at the top of her head, but eventually got up, and even got back on the horse and rode another two laps before ending for the day.

She was a bit shaky, but seemed to have taken it fairly well. She complained of some head pain that day, but the next morning she said had gone. Now we’re 3 days post the fall, and she’s got lots of pain in her shoulders, and some in her neck. She didn’t complain of these pains immediately after the incident. It seems like it’s most likely pulled muscles from the fall. She’s been eating and sleeping normally and acting normal in every way. She only said her shoulders hurt. I’ve given her hot baths and children’s ibuprofen 3 times a day. But I’ve started to worry. Maybe I should have taken her to a doctor after the fall, but I didn’t want to overreact and perhaps undo the work she’s been doing. If the body aches don’t improve by tomorrow, I’ll take her to the doctor.

Suddenly I’m scared for her. She does a lot of sports and we never gave too much thought to the risks. We decided to keep her off the gymnastics league because it would have meant 3 times weekly practice for several hours and no time for anything else. We also felt it probably wasn’t healthy for her body to spend so much energy on gymnastics alone. Now suddenly I’m faced not just with a sport that has me scared for her, but what had felt like a good therapy fit. It’s not that I saw it as something we would continue for years, just something to get K past her fear of animals, and to give her the opportunity to learn to feel towards an animal and all that goes with that.

Today I spoke to Matan’s developmental doctor about getting approval for him to do riding therapy, and she was absolutely against it. She felt very strongly that the risks of riding outweigh the potential benefits and that there are plenty of other therapies that are less dangerous. K’s getting art therapy at school now, but no other psychological support. She seems rather happy to be free of seeing a therapist on a regular basis. She is thrilled to go to each riding session, although there is always some initial fear of the animals when we arrive at the stables. K insists she enjoys riding and wants overcome her fear the barnyard animals.

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