Thursday, September 27, 2007

We have TWO cowboys now!!

Its official - Benny is riding now too! Wednesday was his first day in hippotherapy. Hippotherapy is physical therapy with the added benefits of sensory input/motion from riding horseback. Xavier has been doing the hippotherapy since July of last year, and now Ben is able to take advantage of it too. The boys will share the same time slot, so I'm really looking forward to watching them ride together (on different horses of course). Xavier will still ride his ol' trusty CJ and Ben will ride his favorite - Pumpkin.

I waited until the morning to tell Ben what he was going to do. He was SO excited and talked about it quite a bit. He kept saying, "I'm going to ride Pumpkin! Like Xavier. Xavier ride CJ. Hooray!" When we went into the barn, he was his usual energetic self and wanted to feed "Cowboy and Angel" hay. One piece at a time. Here's a picture:

Xavier always seems to anticipate the fun of riding when we enter the barn too. He was following Heather (his PT) all over the place with his gaze as she was evaluating Ben before he could begin riding. Ben was so super-charged from all the excitement (and I think the dirt and all the fun stuff to get into in the barn, as usual), poor Heather had to chase him everywhere. You have the patience of a saint Heather!

Then it was time for Ben to don a helmet. He loves to wear anything on his head, so he had a good time with that. I had to laugh because he knew what size he wore before Heather and I did. He picked out a helmet sitting on a desk, "I wear that helmet." Heather thought it might be too big, so she looked for a smaller size...nope, didn't fit...Ben knew all along which helmet was for him, I guess...the one on the desk fit perfectly! Here his is, looking cool in his riding gear :)

I got to "side walk" with Ben because one of the volunteers was absent. That's a first for me and it was very fun to be a part of the action. I will never forget the look on Benny's face as Heather lifted him up over the horse to get into his first position, on his belly sideways over the horse. He was facing me and the look of pure delight he gave me almost brought tears to my eyes.

Just like Xavier, he rode in all the various positions - facing front, on his belly, facing sideways and backwards. We also stopped to play games to challenge his balance and work on fine motor and cognitive skills too. That's why I think hippotherapy is so great - its a fun unconventional way that has no match (in my mind anyway) in strengthening trunk muscles and building balance and coordination.

Here's Ben giving Pumpkin a hug. OK, so its the wrong end of the horse...but what's a boy to do when he's facing backwards and is overwhelmed with excitement and needs to give the horse a hug?!

Ben made me giggle when Heather kept asking him how to make the horse start walking when we were stopped. She had told him in the beginning that the horse will start to go if he says, "walk on". But Ben thought it was much more fun to say, "Go, Pumpkin, Go!"

Here's Ben reaching for the egg and spoon for the race at the end. The boys balance a toy egg that breaks when dropped on a spoon while racing from one end of the arena to the other.

This is the first time I've actually seen Xavier get pretty excited during the race. I think he knew he was racing his brother! He wanted to win! He was giggling and leaning forward when I took this picture.

The boys give the horses treats at the end of the session. Ben usually helps Xavier with this, but they each got to do it on their own this time.

Here's a couple of pictures of Xavier on the way home. He gets so "super-charged" after riding. Notice anything different about him? Glasses off! That's his new thing, loves to take his glasses off and try to put them on again. This time, he just put them beside his leg in the carseat, guess he'd just had enough of them for the moment. :) Look how happy he is - warms my heart! (and yes, I was driving when taking these pictures, but I was just randomly shooting without looking as I heard him laughing and clapping, so safety was not compromised! :)

We are very excited about this opportunity for Xavier and Ben, and thankful that they have such wonderful people helping them develop into strong, self-confident boys!


Melissa said...

I really like your new layout...nice job!

You can easily see the love in both Ben and Xavier's eyes...they really do love those horses!

Rachel said...

How fun!!! Xavier and Benny are so lucky to get to ride the horses.
Xavier looks so much older in the car seat picture. He is growing up!

Liz said...

Hi... I usually read your block about once a week, but have been so busy lately, that it has been once a month. I love coming to see updates on your lives, and I love the pictures. That is one thing I am missing on my blog. I need more pictures.

Anyway wanted to let you know I stop by, sorry that I missed your callout earlier.

Liz ... Also mom to two boys.

Aunt Ruth,InCanton said...

Hi kids. Love all of the pictures. Good to see the boys doing so well.They are getting so big.Can't wait to see the finished kitchen. Tell Nick to get ready for the next family bash. Love you all.Aunt R.