Carol Smith, 35-years-young with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
I was in a wheelchair in 1998 but not confined due to hippotherapy. Conn lent me his powerful body when mine was so weak. When I first started riding I didn’t have sensation from the waist down, no balance and didn’t have fine motor coordination in my hands. I was a mess but Conn was ready to show me the he would work my muscles and move for me until I could do it for myself, but most of all I believed that he needed to teach me that I was safe on him.
Bonnie and all of the other wonderful volunteers treated me like an able-bodied person but of course took precautions for my safety. I needed to be treated like everyone else and in many ways once I was on Conn I became an equal. It was that one hour a week the kept me going through those rough times. In Med-Rehab knowing that I had to figure out a way that I would be able to be mobile, I reflected back on my childhood and how I would canter through the fields on my horse.
Riding a horse would be my solution. I then told the doctor that if I could ride I could live, not knowing that hippotherapy even existed at the time. Over time and many months of therapy slowly my function improved to the point that at times I only needed a cane to walk around. Conn and Bonnie saved my life by keeping me in motion.
Part 2. Due to cervical cord compression that required emergency surgery in April, 2000 I’m having to face many of the challenges that I had before, but I didn’t have the luxury of ignorance for I knew how difficult the journey to recovery would be. After surgery I went into a coma and it’s been a long road just getting back into physical therapy. Before surgery I was basically quadriplegic but upper body movement is returning. I must confess that I didn’t think I had what it took to recover from this challenge.
Once again Bonnie, Joan and Amy where there reminding me that I would be back on a horse again. There would always be a way to be mobile. David, my physical therapist told me that if anybody could make a recovery again that I could, that along with hippotherapy has given me a renewed hope. I want to thank everyone for all of the support and prayers. I know that it’s a very long rode ahead of me, but I came to the realization one night to let go and let God. I believe that God not only works through people but he works through horses too.