Yesterday Sam had his first hippotherapy session. Although this could be considered an "alternative" therapy it does not involve the use of a hippopotamus.
"Hippo" actually is derived from the Greek word meaning horse, and hippotherapy is alternately referred to as therapeutic horseback riding. According to some info on the horseback riding center's website, "In this form of treatment, the horse’s body moves in the same three-dimensional motions as the human walk. Thus, the rider’s body is also directed naturally into a three-dimensional “walking” motion that no piece of equipment can replicate." The benefits are not necessarily limited to those of a physical nature but may also include gains in psychological, cognitive, behavioral and communication functions. We've looked into a lot of complementary therapies for Sam, but hippotherapy is the most well-thought of and has the research to support its claims.
We had to wait until Sam turned 2 before beginning the therapy so I had been anticipating this day for awhile. When the day finally arrived we spent a few minutes getting to know the therapists who would be working with him on the horse and then we headed out back to the corral. There are three people, other than Sam, who are involved in the therapy - two therapists to support Sam and someone to handle the horse. Sam was properly outfitted with a helmet and placed upon a horse named Tasha. Then off they went at a slow walk. As they headed off I couldn't help but get teary-eyed, watching my baby on this large, graceful creature surrounded by such a big production. And while I stood there on the sidelines having my "moment" Sam was having his on the horse. Lying back on Tasha he closed his eyes to the sun, his body gently rocked with the movement as he smiled and cooed.