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Effects of Riding with Spina Bifida

Ride On St. Louis equine-assisted therapy session

Throughout Ride On St. Louis's near 20 years of serving hundreds of families as a St. Louis nonprofit organization, one of the greatest gifts is witnessing life altering improvements from riding for children with extreme diagnoses. Spina bifidia is one type of condition where riding can have a huge impact as little ones with tremendous challenges grow. Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the bones of the spine (vertebrae) don't form properly around part of the baby's spinal cord. It affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) often causing difficulty in standing, walking and even bladder control. When a horse walks, the torso of the rider or client responds the same way as if their legs were doing the walking naturally. The result of the movement and the body's reaction and adjustment to it strengthens core muscles, including the pelvis and pelvis muscles that affect bladder control. Strengthening the torso also lends to stability and control to assist use of lower extremities. The right and left stride of the horse awakens the brain to learn how to take alternating steps. Standing in the stirrups is an isometric exercise focused on strengthening the legs, and our little clients light up with these fun exercises on the horse. We want to thank all who donate to Ride On St. Louis and enable the existence of our program. And for those whose monetary gifts support Ridership funding for our families, you are making life long changes to the world of our little "riders."

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