"Patches—a therapy horse at HorsePlay Hippotherapy & Therapeutic Riding, Inc.— has helped kids with disabilities thrive. He has taught important life skills through his gentleness, patience, and of course his steady, rhythmical movement.
One favorite story comes to mind. Patches worked with a child who had struggled with a swallowing disorder, known as laryngomalacia. She had struggled with this her entire life, requiring a thickening agent be added to every liquid she wanted. Otherwise, this little girl would choke, risking aspiration and pneumonia.
[READ MORE: Denver's urban youth find healing through horses.]
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Knowing this, her occupational therapist intentionally had Patches walk certain patterns and faced the little girl backwards during the riding portions of therapy, while leaning forward on both arms. This position stimulated the brain by bringing more awareness and sensory input to the neck, jaw, and tongue, and facilitated a much more effective swallow.
Six weeks later, this precious girl was seen by her ear nose and throat doctor and was 100% cleared of her diagnosis following medical testing and examinations. She completely came off of thickeners and was able to eat and drink like the rest of us for the first time in her life. All because of Patches." —Erica K.