Our riders come from a large geographic area around Bloomsburg, PA, which includes Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Union, Luzerne, Snyder, and Lackawanna 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 46,(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.
Christopher, age 27, has been riding with the program since the age of two. He is microcephalic, having a small brain caused by a cytomegalovirus infection during the first trimester of his mother’s pregnancy. This has caused him to have a version of cerebral palsy called spastic quadriplegia. Also, he is severely retarded and profoundly hearing impaired. He used to ride with a back rider because his trunk muscles have low tone. In contrast, he has very high tone in his arms and legs, which causes them to be very stiff. That situation has improved over the years and now he sits on the horse, so that the motions delivered to his trunk help to stimulate those muscles, and no longer needs a back rider. His ability to use his trunk muscles has greatly improved, as has his ability to hold onto the reins and to participate in steering the horse. After surgery on both of his arms and both of his legs, his orthopedic surgeon was insistent that he get back on the horse as soon as possible, recognizing the benefits of this special kind of therapy.
Conner (our Giddyup boy), age 16, has been riding with Eos for 13 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 Zac! 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 Zac!
Pat, age 78, has been riding with the program for 18 years. She suffered brain trauma in an automobile accident forty-one years ago. Pat gets around with a walker and a motorized scooter. Her goals in riding are to improve her strength and balance and to have some independent physical recreation. Her progress has been tremendous. While most of our riders always require side walkers and horse leaders, Pat has become an independent rider. The freedom she feels while on the horse has no comparison. Not only does Pat benefit, but her husband and children all are uplifted by the progress she has made.