I have however taken some control outside of being at the mercy of a drug. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to the pharma way if it helps, but it would be nice to have other options as well. And so far my little yellow friend Levodopa has made parts of my life easier for periods of time and for that I find joy in that part of the journey. However once I was told at that first appointment in SJ that it was suspected I may have Young Onset Parkinson's, and then that opinion being seconded by the Movement Disorder Neurologist there 6 weeks later I started reading. A lot. Read some books, read nearly every article I could online about PD, joined just about every PD network I could through social media and beyond. There is power in knowledge so I try and saturate my brain with this stuff. Upon some of that research I stumbled across Equine Therapy or Therapeutic Riding. This sparked a big interest in me since I have always had a love for horses and did do a bit of riding in my teens.
Wikipedia explains Therapeutic riding like this:
Horses provide a unique neuromuscular stimulation when being ridden through their one of a kind movement. Horses move in a rhythmic motion that mimics the human movement of walking. While riding, the horses stride acts to move the rider's pelvis in the same rotation and side-to-side movement that occurs when walking. The horses adjustable gait promotes riders to constantly adjust the speed to achieve the desired pelvic motion while promoting strength, balance, coordination, flexibility and confidence.
The amount of benefit gained through therapeutic riding differs from person to person based on many factors such as the type of disability, severity of disability, motivation of the rider and connection between horse and rider. Unlike exercise machines that only focus on one muscle group at a time and do not use natural body movements, riding forces the rider to make use of the entire body to steer, control, adjust the horse and maintain balance. Because horses require not only physical skill but also cognitive skill for achievement, riding reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the rider. While most traditional therapeutic techniques often reach a plateau where the patient may lose motivation, the pleasure and excitement of riding acts to encourage patients to work through the pain and discomfort. The act of accomplishing something many able-bodied people are afraid to try is a benefit to those with disabilities in itself.
The physical benefits of Equine Therapy are incredible. The list includes:
Now that all being said/read and being a lover of horses and always wanting to learn to ride English better why wouldn't I want to check this natural option out? So that's just what I did. My daughter had been taking riding lessons a while back from Amanda Tweety of Giddy Up Acres located just about 5 minutes from my house. So I sent her a message asking if she would be interested in taking me on. She thankfully said yes!
Now, what's really incredible about Amanda is she knows why I am there. I am not simply another lesson to her. She knows that I am there to maintain muscle control in my legs and help my balance. So my first round of lessons were on a big boy named Roy. A fairly lazy fellow and as she called it after the fact "a good confidence booster horse". Of course I did not know at the time that this is why she gave him to me. As I started to progress, got my mind wrapped around the art of posting and practiced some techniques from years gone by she knew that my body needed a more challenging horse. So TBone was my next friend.