Friday, August 26, 2011

Finding the Mid-line

Step number one in any therapeutic riding is to help your student find their mid-line or center. Until they have an idea of what their center feels like they cannot move on to other exercises like reaching from one side to the other. They need to find their mid-line in order to walk, bring a cup to their mouth or get the feel of what it is like to walk and be in balance for those that are wheelchair bound or have an awkward gait. This is something most children learn from birth, slowly learning to bring things together to their mouth. If your student can already do this then you can move on to other activities.
The first step is to get them to relax and be in a good position; ankle, hip, shoulder and ear in line. This is done with a back rider who supports the feet, keeping them in line to achieve the most benefit; while holding lightly on to their wrists and stretching out, in front, up and across the chest, ending by touching the nose with both hands.
This is very difficult for some children especially with Cerebral Palsy. Never force the movement. If they go rigid or limp, start again by crossing the arms over the chest until they relax and continue the series over again.
You may not be able to accomplish this in one or two classes. Once they have achieved the goal, praise them and do something like a short trail ride or something for fun. When they are able to do this on their own they are ready to start games and exercises where they cross the body to retrieve or place objects. The back rider must lean slightly back so that the child's head is supported. If the head drops, ask them to try and lift it themselves, if they can't give a little help.
The goal is to get both hands together to the nose by themselves or with the minimum of help.
This is a riding therapy demonstration on Nora at Centro Albero, with Loli Berenguel Gálvez as the instructor, Marla as the student and me as the back rider.

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