Eight-Year-Old Ian Participates in Equine-Assisted Therapy Thanks to Variety

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Friday, February 16, 2024


Rhythms of Grace is a nonprofit organization serving central Iowa with equine-assisted services. Riders develop independence, empathy, safety, decision-making and a variety of cognitive, physical, emotional and social skills that impact their daily lives through customized lesson plans. Licensed therapists use treatments that incorporate horse movement or the horse’s environment to address medical, cognitive, or behavioral health conditions as part of the individualized plan of care.


They received a Variety Grant this year to purchase special children’s saddles, adaptive horse tack, sensory programming tools, and an Equicizer. These tools offer a fun alternative way of conducting therapeutic exercises for children with disabilities. Equicizers are popular tools in equine assisted service centers that offer adaptive riding, hippotherapy, rehabilitation, and recreational & therapeutic horseback riding programs. Eight-year-old Ian (pictured below) uses all of these tools to overcome physical, mental, and emotional challenges!


Ian uses the horse and bareback pad as a treatment tool to greatly improve his strength and functional mobility. He is now able to ambulate with decreased support as well as participate in activities with family and friends with increased ease. The bareback pad requires him to utilize his abdominal and hip musculature more than a typical saddle to continue improving his functional mobility. Utilizing the Equicizer also greatly helps him develop strength and confidence on a more stationary object with a slow increase in movement when adding in higher level activities like 1/2 kneel and standing on the horse.


“We are thrilled with the support of Variety – the Children’s Charity in in helping us offer an effective, safe alternative form of therapy and wellness for children who have special needs and abilities,” said Dawn Carlson, Founder, CEO and Instructor at Rhythms of Grace. “It takes a village to provide the tools needed to serve our community and we are grateful for this assistance.”


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