ROXBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — “As a horse walks, its hips rotate in the same way a humans hips do,” said Kayla Ireland, using a tablet to speak. “The muscles in the rider’s hips are massaged thought the lesson.”
She explained the science behind her favorite activity at Tophet Farm.
“For a person who is unable to walk, riding a horse gives the same sensation as actually walking.”
The 22-year-old with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy and epilepsy has participated in programs at Little Britches Therapeutic Riding for most of her life. After much work, she now rides independently, practicing para-dressage — the highest expression of horse training, performing tests from memory, communicating with her equine partner, Lucy, through her legs.
“Lucy replaces my wheelchair, braces and walker with her movements and magic,” said Ireland.
“I feel lucky to be on the planet with her, that she’s in my life,” said Little Britches President, Janie Larson, inspired by all riders who build strength, balance and confidence. “They get to be with people, throw balls, interact; they get to be with the pony.”
And bond with that gentle soul.
“They know,” said Larson. “They know that these children need them.”
“All these benefits help me physically and emotionally get through the day and week and reduce the constant tug of war I have with my own body,” said Ireland, so passionate about the program that she now volunteers, helping with outreach, using her voice to make a difference. “I am very active in my community.”
But, she said, time with Lucy is therapy in disguise, a moment when time stands still.
“Riding is my freedom.”
Those interested in more information about the program should reach out during the winter. Little Britches will be back, serving riders with special needs, next spring.
More information can be found online.