Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center Programs
Little Bit’s flagship programs are Hippotherapy and Adaptive Riding. Hippotherapy is a medical model that uses the horse to improve physical, cognitive or social/communication skills. During Hippotherapy, one of our physical or occupational therapists adjusts the movement and stride of the therapy horse depending on the patient’s needs. The 30-40 minute session takes place in the arena; the therapist is assisted by a trained horse handler and 1-3 volunteers who work with the therapist to enhance the patient's experience with props, exercises, or sounds. Adaptive Riding classes increase individual horsemanship and riding skills while providing participants with therapeutic benefits. The 60-minute Adaptive Riding lesson, led by one of our certified instructors, may include arena riding, trail rides, and group activities. Riders may be independent in the arena or assisted by 1-3 volunteers; class size is typically two to four riders, similar in age or ability. Little Bit has one of the region’s largest volunteer programs, with nearly 1,600 community members assisting us in fulfilling our mission and 300 of those volunteers working directly with riders in the arena on a weekly basis. In April 2013, we move into our new expanded 17-acre facility, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center at Dunmire Stables, significantly increasing our capacity and allowing us to begin addressing our waiting list of 214 individuals.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
The most important success at Little Bit is always the individual progress made by our riders and patients as a result of our programs. Gracie, age 4, was born with a pulmonary atresia, a rare heart condition. She had her first open heart surgery when she was one week old and has battled complications and additional surgeries since. Gracie also has difficulty with fine and gross motor skills and speech. When Gracie started Hippotherapy at age 2, she could use single words, sit but not crawl. After six months of Hippotherapy, Gracie’s balance and posture improved, she began crawling, could go from sit to stand with help, and give her beloved new friend and therapy horse Ebony simple commands. At age 3, Gracie needed another open heart surgery. But she was determined to get well so she could ride Ebony again. Two months later, Gracie was back at Little Bit! Her mom says, “I’m just so thankful that we’re part of the Little Bit program. It has had a profound impact on Gracie’s development. She’s physically stronger, more independent, and more confident. Her love of horseback riding will take her far here at Little Bit and in life.”
Little Bit is committed to helping all our riders explore their world, share their words, and be as independent as possible. This April, we make the long-awaited move to our new, larger facility, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center at Dunmire Stables. This 17-acre facility gives us the capacity to increase the number of children and adults with disabilities served to at least 285 riders weekly by mid-2015. Support from the community will help us fill our new facility with added staff and more therapy horses so that we can serve more riders like Gracie. Your support makes our new facility—and our riders’ dreams—possible.