Day 12 – Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Day #12

Physical, Occupational and Speech therapies often play a big roll in the lives of children with Down syndrome. These supports help our kids reach milestones and develop skills necessary in life.

Our youngest daughter, Willow, works hard to keep up with the world around her. But, she doesn’t know it.

Since the age of 2 weeks, Willow has been working on building muscle and skills with the help of professionals. First, through Early Intervention Services, then eventually through private therapy.

For Willow, therapy is a way of life. It’s not work, it’s fun.

Case in point:


Meet Ruby. Ruby is Willow’s newest therapist!

This week, Willow started hippotherapy. “Hippo” is the greek word for horse, by-the-way. And if we’re getting specific, Ruby is actually part Paint horse and part Shetland pony. She’s also 100% adorable.

Courtesy: Kelly Peterson, Acorn Hill EAAT Inc.

Willow will be getting a little physical, occupational and speech therapy with the help of Ruby and the lovely people at Acorn Hill EAAT, Inc. (PS, EAAT stands for Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies)

Why a horse, you ask? Apparently their walking gait is very similar to a normal human walking gate, so riding a horse can help people learn which muscles to use by stimulating them. Riding a horse is also great for building core muscles, developing better balance and boosting confidence.

It’s also FUN!

Willow spent her first session just getting to know Ruby and feel comfortable with her.

Courtesy: Kelly Peterson, Acorn Hill EAAT Inc.

Ruby is also getting to know Willow…

Courtesy: Kelly Peterson, Acorn Hill EAAT Inc.

While Willow spent most of the session clinging to mommy, she did work up the courage to pet Ruby at the very end.

Courtesy: Kelly Peterson, Acorn Hill EAAT Inc.
Courtes: Kelly Peterson, Acorn Hill EAAT Inc.

Willow has 2 trained therapeutic riding instructors working with her, in addition to a retired therapist and retired medical professional. They are fantastic at making both Willow and Ruby feel comfortable. Using toys, games and a few fancy tricks, they turned my fearful 5 year old into a brave horse petter (that’s a word, right?) in a matter of an hour! The goal is to eventually ride Ruby. No saddle, just a blanket and fuzzy woolly seat cover.

Willow has always been a determined little girl. She’s also a hard worker. These qualities have benefited her as she’s worked with various therapists in life. I can’t wait to see how she does with hippotherapy.

So, “Giddy Up” Ruby! My little cowgirl is (almost) ready to ride!


If you’d like more information about Acorn Hill EAAT Inc, visit:

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