Capital Region Cares Capital Region Cares 2017-2018 - Page 58

n Success story Joy Ride AT LINCOLN’S EQUESTRIAN-BASED THERAPY PROGRAM RIDE TO WALK, RIDERS WITH DISABILITIES GAIN STRENGTH, KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL 58 CAPITAL REGION CARES 2017 | comstocksmag.com BY Danna Sweidan PHOTOS: Kelly Barr W hat started with one pony bridled near a Granite Bay occupational ther- apy clinic in 1985, is now a 21-acre Lincoln ranch with a lake and 10 donated horses for the Ride To Walk physical therapy program. But when Dr. Kris- tine Corn thought to start integrating horseback riding into her program over three decades ago, she was not an equestrian. Corn had bought a pony named Freckles from a neighbor, but she didn’t even know how to put a sad- dle on a horse. And aside from some lessons as a child, she didn’t have much experience riding horses either. As a physical therapist, Corn has worked with patients with a wide range of emotional, physical and learning disabilities. She’d heard of similar, equestrian-based therapies in Europe in the 1980s, so Corn decided to try it with her own patients. Wheel- chairs are a static surface, but sitting on a horse is a dynamic surface, one that you have to actively work at to stay on. As Corn says, keeping yourself upright on a horse uses muscles in the neck and core that riders with disabil- ities often have trouble strengthening. Learning to ride gives people with lim- ited mobility more control over their body, she says. “A lot of my physical therapy clients who were in wheelchairs often only got out of them to get in and out of bed, to go to the bathroom, or to sit some- where else or lay on the floor,” Corn says. Starting with Freckles, she sat be- hind some of her clients to support and guide them. Some of those cli- ents eventually gained the skill and strength to ride independently, she says. Today, the program serves cli- ents of all ages, but most are between 2 and 16 years old. Most clients can