Life is a journey of unexpected twists and turns. Some of those twists of fate lead us on interesting paths to regain health and independence. Cindy Long, a Certified Brain Injury Specialist, Hank – her six-year-old Quarter Horse gelding – and his full brother, Trip, have formed a team to provide opportunities for those on the unexpected journey to experience that spiritual connection to the inner self that comes from relating to a horse. They work with patients at a traumatic brain injury rehabilitation center in Texas and with children and adults with disabilities at ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship in McKinney, TX offering Occupational, Speech, Physical and Cognitive Therapy.
During this session, Hank and Trip demonstrated exercises such as the “yo-yo game” (walking back and forth), “sideways game” (stepping side to side) and “hide the hiney” (bending the rear end one side to the other) with the participants from ManeGait who are dealing with different impairments due to brain injuries. All of these games are played without the participants touching the horse, but through a series of simple movement commands. In addition, Hank & Trip are also trained to work with verbal commands from speech participants. “Shhh” will get them to back up, a kissing sound tells them to step forward, a tongue-click tells the horses to step sideways, and the traditional “whoa” means to stop. Cindy has also taught the horses to stop immediately when the patient stops and to back up when the patient backs up. They will do this whether the patient is standing, in a manual wheel chair or in a power chair. To help the patients work on their fine motor skills, Cindy utilizes the halters by tying and untying the halter, hooking and unhooking the lead rope and by buckling and unbuckling all the various buckles on her saddle. You will also see an image where the patient utilized the saddle to pull himself up out of his wheelchair to stand on his own.
It was impressive and inspirational to see the two participants going through each part of the session accomplishing the different exercises. There were many tender moments shared as well. Hank and Trip have a miraculous gift of communication and empathy that is truly amazing to witness. The way they first greeted the participants and how they tenderly nuzzled them throughout the session brought huge smiles to everyone. It was a wonderful experience to see Hank and Trip connecting with the participants in such a special way.
Hank and Trip’s initial training for therapy work required 18 to 20 hours a week for approximately six months. Today, in addition to working directly with clients twice a week, they receive an additional five hours of training each week at Cindy’s Blue Ridge farm.
Hank and Trip have had stories published about them, including this session, which was featured in the August 2012 issue of Perelli Natural Horsemanship Savvy Times™. Cindy is also planning on publishing a series of children’s books later this year called The Adventures of Hank and Trip. Hank is a very mischievous Left-Brain Introvert and is always getting into something, so he provides lots of topics for the books. Him and Trip have great personalities and love to “horse” around (hehehe), just check out the image of them playing with the orange cone. 🙂
At ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship, children and adults with disabilities will move beyond their boundaries through the healing power of horses and the dedication of a professional, caring community. They are a dynamic non-profit delivering the best in therapeutic equestrian activities and therapy in a caring, high-integrity environment located on a beautiful, rolling 14 acre site in Collin County. Learn more by visiting www.manegait.org.
Get Involved. Getting involved at ManeGait is a great way to give back to the North Texas community. Learn more about their fundraising events, volunteer opportunities or check out their wish list to see the items they need to better serve children and adults with disabilities. Your donation of time, money, or in-kind gifts will directly benefit those who need it most. Learn more by clicking HERE and don’t forget to share this post using the social media buttons below to help bring awareness to this story and great organization.
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