Charlie and Oreo

“The best part about the riding service is that Charlie sees it as more of a hobby than a therapy session. He has seen a real knock-on effect in mobility and his walking is so much better. As the riding engages his core, he is sitting up better and straighter. Not only is it great for his physical health, but Charlie also enjoys the social aspect of speaking to all the volunteers and staff” says Melanie, mum to Charlie.

Charlie was diagnosed with Spastic Diaplegic Cerebral Palsy at 15 months and has been coming to MRT since age 4. He was initially signed up for a term with our NHS partnership, The Children’s Therapeutic Riding Service, on therapy pony Smartie.

Melanie says, “The smile when he first got on that horse was electric and we immediately knew Charlie had found an activity he adored.”

Melanie explains,

“For Charlie [Spastic Diaplegic Cerebral Palsy] means poor muscle control, weakness and spasticity in his legs, and a weakness in his core. We were told Charlie would never walk. But though sheer determination, hard work and access to wonderful therapies such as riding therapy, Charlie not only walks with his Kaye walking frame but excels, loves life and has most certainly proved people wrong.”

During the pandemic, access to our therapy ponies was restricted, but our pioneering team was able to restart sessions using Oreo, our specialist mechanical horse. This horse-shaped, high tech piece of physiotherapy equipment responds to leg and hand movements just like a real horse. Oreo is linked to a screen in front of him which allows his riders to choose from an array of scenic rides such as the beach or fields which they can virtually follow.

“As Charlie is quite competitive, he enjoys beating his score on Oreo. You get more points the more you are centred on the horse, so this has really helped to focus Charlie and improve his position and posture.”

You can watch Charlie and Oreo in action on the STV News report and also read the East Lothian Courier article about our partnership.

My Riding Therapy Story

Let some of our participants tell you what Muirfield Riding Therapy means to them. Click on one of their stories to read more.