Therapy on horseback helps Twin Cities boy take his first steps
A therapy program in Medina called We Can Ride has been changing the lives of patients for more than 40 years through horseback riding.
It has made a difference for 4-year-old Jordan Henn, who was born with a rare genetic condition called tuberous sclerosis complex. He has spent most of his life in a wheelchair, and his mom says they have tried a number of therapies without much success — until he started We Can Ride.
“He wouldn’t bear weight on his feet before, but when he’s on the horse, he doesn’t have to do that,” his mom, Anastasia Henn, said.
“If we can just get him on the horse and he rides, his brain and his body get all that input, the walking pattern,” she said.
There is a science behind why it can work. It’s known as “hippotherapy,” meaning the movement of the horse is a treatment tool.
“The way a horse’s pelvis moves is similar to that of a human’s. So sometimes when kids get on a horse coming from a wheelchair, they feel movement they have never felt before because they are feeling the movement of walking,” said occupational therapist Simone Brobege, with We Can Ride.
Five months after starting the program, Jordan took his first steps. He was 3½ years old at the time.
“It was an answer to our prayers. It was just such a blessing,” Anastasia Henn said.
Jordan still does other forms of speech and occupational therapy in addition to We Can Ride. The organization serves more than 275 clients a year.