Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Hippotherapy

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I am happy to report that I was reunited with my computer yesterday. I think it had a circuit board-eating bacteria or worms of some sort. The only freaking part left on it I recognize anymore is the CPU. All other parts, including the case it lives in, were completely replaced, and we are slowly getting to know each other again. I worked into the night yesterday and very early this morning to help my poor coworker/partner in crime get unburied from my absence all week. It's nice to be missed.

Yesterday Erik and I drove to the computer store bright and early after breakfast. I winced as I opened the door, but the technician had honored his promise to disconnect the buzzer on the door. After I paid an exorbitant ransom, I liberated my PC and headed home to feed Erik a quick snack before my friend Shaena arrived to head out with us to the hippotherapy facility. The farm is located a mere five minutes from our house, down a country road lined with glossy, white fences. The entrance was clearly marked with a beautiful sign, and we drove down a narrow asphalt lane to a giant, unassuming metal building snuggled up next to an unattractive modular trailer-type building with a wheelchair ramp to the door. We poked our heads into the trailer, where a boy I recognized from Erik's class was sitting on board swing suspended from the ceiling. Ms. G, Erik's therapist, was working with him. She instructed us to go through a door on the side of the metal building, where we found ourselves in a small room. There was a messy kitchenette with a sink choked with dirty coffee cups, a small table and chairs, and a wonderfully comfy, voluptuous love seat that looked weirdly out of place in front of a smudged window featuring a fantastic view of a gorgeous indoor riding arena and horse stalls constructed of blond pine. The earthy scent of horses permeated everything and made me want to sneeze. Shaena, Erik, and I explored the room and then made ourselves comfortable. Erik kissed a couple of the stuffed horses resting in a pile in the corner, smacking his lips enthusiastically. Staff members made their way through this room and out a door leading into the arena, smiling and greeting us as they passed.

Soon Ms. G joined us, leading us out onto a concrete walk lining the mucky-looking arena. We passed a couple office windows framing people hard at work at computers and on phones. Erik immediately formed a friendship with a resident dog, and as he gently touched this animal's fur, there was no tension visible in his body at all. No stiffness. No rocking back and forth. I smiled as I heard Erik say, "HI!" One of the many things I adore about Erik is the way he approaches animals and greets them like he would any fellow human as if he is the host of a talk show. His charisma, sadly, is completely lost on animals, but it makes me giggle every time. We were invited to watch Erik prepare to ride. He was fitted with a belt-like device around his torso and a small, white bicycle helmet, which he was less than thrilled about wearing but soon forgot about with some well-timed distraction. He mounted the horse from a metal platform and a tiny set of steps. After snapping some photos, Shaena and I turned to make our way back to the observation room, and it was at that moment I realized how much trust I have in Erik's "team." After days of worry and wondering how Erik would respond to the strange sights, sounds, and smells of this new place, it was easy to let all of it go and allow them to take over caring for Erik. Once we took our places on the love seat in the observation room, Shaena and I watched the staff work with Erik as he practiced throwing balls into trash cans from atop the horse and felt the large animal's movements beneath him. His normally stiff little body was relaxed and moved fluidly with the rhythm of the horse's movements from the very first second he was placed on it. Every time the team rounded the arena and passed the window, we would clap and wave at Erik as if we were at a very poorly-attended rodeo. He shot happy smiles right back at us.

After approximately 30 minutes of riding, Erik's legs were manually stretched out, and he was taken into the modular trailer for more therapy. When we went to check on him, Ms. G was playing an obnoxious, musical toy, singing along loudly, and holding Erik. Much to my surprise, he was doing fine, although it was painfully obvious to me he would much rather be playing with a quiet wheel. Ms. G is the first therapist I have observed working on Erik's issues with noise. While I think many loud noises are painful to him, there may be some that may simply create anxiety. I'm skeptical, but I have an open mind about gently exposing him to more noise -- just as long as it doesn't seem to hurt him physically or upset him beyond the point of consoling.

The three of us made our way back outside to the Jeep at the end of Erik's session and ended up taking a quick tour through the Taco Bell drive-through in town. I still can't tell you exactly why therapy in the morning makes me want a bean burrito, but it does.

Ah, the healing properties of fire sauce.

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Blogger Kerry said...

That is so cool! He looks so grown up in his little helmet and riding high on the horse. I am impressed he wasn't scared, as most two year olds I know woul dbe. Good job Erik!!! :)
Love -K

8:33 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

I hate having computer problems...happy that it is getting better for you. Morning theraphy and a burrito, not sure why that connects for you.

11:56 PM  
Blogger Lisa R said...

Very Cool great pictures, Eric looks like he was having a blast...I just giggled when I came over to your blog because I too just did a Glad you got the computeer fixed :)

10:35 AM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back! It seems that though you are Erik's number one caregiver you have recognized the need for outside help on this journey.

Erik's independence and milestones will surely be bitter sweet as they are for every mother.

Thanks for the pics!

12:25 PM  
Blogger PASLAY'S FROM IDAHO said...




12:57 PM  
Blogger Every minute counts.... said...

Hippotherapy is great! Abi did it for a while when she was younger and I swear it was the key to her learning to walk. Good luck. It seems like he will love it as much as she did!

8:55 AM  
Blogger kathi said...

Loved the pics, and I'm glad you're both getting so much out of it...right down to the bean burrito and the fire sauce!

10:56 AM  
Blogger Aspen said...

I thought I already commented on how much I LOVE the new pictures. He is so precious to me. I melt with every picture.

8:27 AM  

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