Our riders come from a large geographic area around Bloomsburg, PA, which includes Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Union, Luzerne, & Snyder counties. They present a wide variety of special needs including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, brain and spinal cord injuries, mental impairments, sensory deficits, autism, and many others. The ages of our riders range from toddler to senior citizen. We currently serve over 100 riders and have a waiting list of over thirty. Riders are added to the program as resources allow. Physicians or physical and occupational therapists refer some riders to the program. Others are referred by social or case workers or the families of established riders. Still others hear about us from a variety of other sources including newspaper andtelevision stories and information booths at malls and community events around the area.
Some Rider Profiles
Cindy, age 48,(in her own words).
The Eos program began in June of 1992 and I was one of the original seven riders. The number of riders and the program have really grown since then. When I first started, there was just an outside ring, so when it rained we could not go. Each week since I started there have been changes to the program and me, and it is wonderful. I used to need helpers and volunteers on my side when I rode. It is really great the way the volunteers give up their time to help us. Now I am an independent rider and only need someone to help with the games. The games help stretch our muscles, even though we are not aware of it at the time. Over the years I have ridden several horses including Smooth, Shawnee, Levi, Toby, Keith, Ladd, and Rusty, and now I'm riding Tiny Mite. My balance on the horse has really improved. Playing games, reaching, jogging, etc. have really helped me.
Emma is a happy, cheerful, caring and contented twelve year old. Emma was born a month prematurely and spent the first nine weeks of her life in the hospital. When she was 3 months old, after genetic tests, it was determined she had a rare genetic disorder called CHARGE. Among other things, this affects her hearing, vision, and heart.
When Emma was 2 years old, while she was having physical and occupational therapy, we felt there was more that we could find for her. While in high school , I had volunteered at Eos and immediately thought about getting her into that program.
Her first ride came in August 2009, right before her 3rd birthday. With apprehension to put your child on a horse and allow the instructor and volunteers to have Emma, she fell in love with it. The smile on Emma's face when Beau Pony started to walk was something I will never forget.
Now many years later, she still looks forward to her riding day. She knows the day of the week, the time she rides, and will let us know if we arrive late. She loves riding along with her two riding buddies, Deanna and Melody. They all enjpy interacting with games and conversations.
Emma is supported by many extended family, which not only includes her parents and sister, but grandparents, great-grandparents, and her beloved uncle. We as a family have learned a lot about Eos. Words cannot express how much it means to our family. Seeing Emma walk, talk, mature, make friends and feel like she is no different than any other child because of her involvement with Eos makes this place more important to not just Emma but our WHOLE family. We are proud to be a part of the Eos family.
Our Giddyup boy, age 17, has been riding with Eos for 14 years. When Conner first came through Eos doors, he showed us that he was a natural horse rider. He started on Sugar Pye then Tiny Mite, and now rides Keeper! His session starts with hugs all around and then he tells his pony to "Giddyup" and we are off for a fun-filled adventure. As he practices the alphabet; identifying and spelling colors; counting and steering left and right through the cones; Conner is reinforcing some of the skills he has learned at school. Conner is learning social skills by inviting his friends to join him at basketball, target and various other games, which are also helping to develop his gross and fine motor skills. With a "giddyup", Conner gets his pony to jog which brings the biggest smile of all. Who knew that someone could receive all these benefits and have so much fun doing it, all on the back of a horse named Keeper of the Stars Kid!
The benefits of therapeutic horseback riding has been well studied and I certainly would support that research. My son, Evan has improved his gait, balance, and core strength over 12 years of riding. He has improved his articulation from the use of the Alphabet Trail at Eos along with using commands to communicate with his horse. The greatest thing I have found is that it serves for a conduit for Evan's other therapies.
Evan rides on Thursdays and that day he gets himself up for school and dons his clothes without a fuss. He is also more attentive and eager to comply with requests in his classroom. THERE IS NO THERAPY THAT CAN GET THAT KIND OF RESULT FROM HIM.
At the barn, he is greeted with unconditional love. He also learned to overcome his fear of dogs. The sweet dogs of Eos have allowed him to have positive experiences and ease his fears to a manageable level. His desire to be with his horse has helped him work through this.
Along with networking with other parents, I am incredibly grateful for the friendships and support we both receive. To hear squeals of gladness com from an otherwise moody teenager is priceless. I have seen firsthand the miracles both in and out of the saddle.