My 5 year old son Ezequiel Gonzalez has been attending Equest Center for the last two years. Ezequiel has Spinal Muscular Atrophy type II. He loves his horse back riding (that is the name for Equest at our house). Not only is it great for his therapy for him, it is also an extra curricular activity. He only receives therapy twice a week at school. The thing with his muscles is they need as much activity as he can get; because he will always have to fight growth, weight gain, and weakness for the rest of his life. When he goes to horse back riding we notice a significant amount of strengthening in his arms and trunk muscles. I was a little skeptical when he started riding because he does not sit in any kind of saddle but this made him stronger since he is able to hold himself steady on there now. Participating at Equest has been a wonderful experience for Ezequiel and me.
At 8 months my daughter Devin was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. At age 3 ½ the physical therapist we were working with suggested we look into Equest. At the time I could not even get Devin to ride “Sandy” the penny pony at Meijer and could not imagine her on a real horse, but was willing to check it out. I called Equest and arranged a time for us to visit and observe a lesson. I was amazed at the number of volunteers working with the students in the arena. In that particular class there were 4 students, each with a leader and 2 side walkers. After the class the director asked Devin if she would like to sit on the horse. Much to my surprise she said yes. After sitting there a minute he asked her if she wanted to ride the horse around the arena, and again she said yes. She rode around the arena once looking a little nervous. The second time around she began to smile a little. By the third time around she was smiling from ear to ear. At that point we were both sold on the program. In the next years Devin went from a surcingle to a western saddle, to independent riding in an English saddle. She went from a very shy little girl to a confident young lady. The improvement in her balance, leg strength, self confidence and even her speech has been amazing. She now even volunteers before her lessons and attends camp at least 2 weeks in the summers. I truly believe the improvement we have seen in Devin physically, mentally, and even socially is due to the therapy she has received through Equest.
In the eloquent words of outstanding speaker and Equest rider John Agar;
“Equest blazes the way for me and kids like me to achieve their dreams and reach their greatest potential. With YOUR help, more kids will be able to experience their future, not from just their wheelchairs looking up at others, but from atop a horse looking out over their future.”