Lucie, a beautiful three-year-old with Down Syndrome, has been lighting up the EquiCenter with her contagious smile and joy since she began therapeutic riding in the Spring of 2018. She is one of our youngest riders, joining a handful of other 3-year-olds in our program who come to overcome their challenges. Lucie’s parents turned to therapeutic riding to help her through some of the difficulties she has due to her Down Syndrome. Before beginning her lessons, she was struggling with a speech delay and weak core muscles which impacted her gross motor skills. Lucie’s mom Gali said, “It was even hard to carry her as she didn’t have the leg strength to hold onto my hip.”
Since beginning her therapeutic riding lessons, Lucie has seen tremendous progress and the best part is, it doesn’t feel like therapy for her. “Honestly, the excitement she has when we pull in to the EquiCenter is priceless,” Gali says, “Her face lights up as soon as we hit the gravel drive to turn towards the barn.” While riding her pony, Lucie might as well be on top of the world. She loves the feeling of accomplishing a task and giving high fives to everyone in her lesson team. The incredible part is the physical impact she has experienced because of her time at EquiCenter. “Her core control changed drastically. She used to be floppy when riding, and now she sits up tall, moves gently and confidently with the horse, and is so strong in her core. Again, this, in turn, has helped with gross motor skills such as climbing, jumping, and balancing. Lucie’s speech continues to improve on a daily basis. She is now starting to put three words together and we are so excited to hear so much talk! She loves to say “walk on PC” to her horse!” Gali says of the progress she sees in her daughter.
EquiCenter is honored to be a place of healing and growth for children like Lucie. For Lucie and others like her, therapeutic riding gives them opportunities to reach their limitless abilities. EquiCenter could not exist without your support. Please consider a gift that will help more children take their first steps, say their first words, and reach goals beyond what anyone thought was possible.
“I have no doubt that whatever Lucie’s future goals, therapeutic riding will absolutely benefit her in the best way possible. We are so thankful for this facility.”
How did you find EquiCenter and what made you decide to start Lucie in therapeutic riding lessons?
I always heard how beneficial therapeutic riding was. We wanted to do anything for Lucie that will benefit her. We started at a regular horse stable and they weren’t doing any type of therapy, so I looked into EqiCenter. I was somewhat familiar with them since they do their big fundraiser at Midtown Athletic Club every year. I talked to a friend of mine that connected me to Johnathan Friedlander.
What kind of challenges does Lucie face and how have they impacted her?
I think the biggest challenge when we started was her weak core muscles. That’s so important for gross motor skills which have always been difficult for her. Her speech was also delayed. Both challenges that we knew she would accomplish but was greatly improved through therapeutic riding.
What was Lucie's reaction to her first riding lesson? What was yours and the rest of your family's?
Lucie has no fear of any animals, big or small. We were all very excited to start. The staff at Equicenter made and continues to make each ride so wonderful. Honestly, the excitement she has when we pull in to the EqiCenter is priceless. We all love that she loves riding so much and will continue as long as she wants too!
What is Lucie's favorite part about her lesson?
Just being with the horses! If you ask any of her volunteers or instructors, she never wants to leave! She could ride all day! She loves to pet them, feed them their snacks, kiss them, anything! I think she also loves the feeling of accomplishing a task and having everyone give her high fives!
How has riding benefited Lucie? What changes have you and your family or her doctors noticed since she began?
Oh so many! Her core control changed drastically. She used to be floppy when riding, and now she sits up tall, moves gently and confidently with the horse and is so strong in her core. Again, this in turn has helped with gross motor skills such as climbing, jumping, and balancing.
Her adductors( inner thighs) were weak too., which made carrying her hard because she didn’t have the leg strength to hold on to my hip. Now, her legs are strong and has no problem with leg strength.
Lucie's speech continues to improve on a daily basis. She is now starting to put 3 words together and we are so excited to hear so much talk! She loves to say “walk on PC” to her horse!
What are your goals for her in the future and how do you think therapeutic riding will help her achieve them?
Our goals for Lucie are for her to be the best she can be! She’s so smart, a hard worker and such a love. There is no limit to her abilities! I have no doubt that whatever her future goals, therapeutic riding will absolutely benefit her in the best way possible. We are so thankful for this facility.