Riding Therapy
My Story: Charlie


Melanie’s son Charlie is a fun, bubbly and cheeky 10 year old who loves life and football! When Charlie was 15 months old he was diagnosed with Spastic Diaplegic Cerebral Palsy.

“For Charlie this 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,” explains Melanie.

The family were first introduced to Muirfield Riding Therapy when Charlie was 4 years old, and signed up for a term of hippotherapy 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.”

Charlie has had riding therapy for at least a term, every year, up until the present day. During that time, Melanie said Charlie has had 3 major surgeries all requiring huge amounts of rehabilitation to get him mobile and active again. Riding therapy has played a huge part in every one of those recovery periods.

Charlie and his family have seen lots of physical benefits which riding therapy has brought him; he is stronger in the core, his posture is greatly improved and his pelvis is much more flexible. His walking pattern (gait) shows a marked improvement after riding therapy, he gets a much better heel strike and his stride length is vastly improved.

But it’s also the other benefits which Melanie points out are so important too. Charlie sees riding therapy as a pleasure, it’s a fun hobby he can enjoy with others without mum watching over him, and his self-confidence has increased.

She adds, options for after school activities and mixing with other children your age can be limited when you have a physical disability so the fact that he sees this as a fun, sociable session is great.  Over the years we have got really close to some of the volunteers and their caring, dedicated nature is just fabulous. We are so grateful for their willingness to help others enjoy this terrific activity.

What would you say to someone thinking of trying Riding Therapy?

Charlie’s mum says, “Muirfield riding therapy provides a wonderful opportunity for children to engage in a fun, exciting activity that challenges them both physically and mentally.

As a parent, I have found the social interaction with other parents invaluable over the years. Some of the best advice and information I have received about dealing and supporting a child with additional needs has been gained through chatting with fellow parents during a riding session. Many friendships have formed from here.

We are extremely lucky to have this on our door step and my only wish is that we could come every week!”

Next Story: David

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