Therapeutic Riding at CTRC

I love spring. Especially the smell of flowers everywhere. And the sound of bugs at night. Love that.

The girls and I took these photos on one of our daily walks. 
Lilacs are one of the best smells of spring, don’t you think? Mmm…
At therapeutic riding, Ashley’s instructor has been taking the class outside. Here is Ashley above.
This photo (above) makes my heart sing. ♥

Here she is doing one of the activities. 
But of course her favorite thing to do is trot. She loves it. Although riding without the saddle may be tied for first. Without the saddle Ashley sits sideways and rides backwards, even laying down! It makes her so happy. And that makes me so happy :-)
The coordinator, who I adore as much as Ashley’s instructor, asked me to write about Ashley’s experience at therapeutic riding. I’ll share that letter with you now.
My name is Kelly, and I have a seven-year-old daughter named Ashley. Ashley developed autism when she was a baby. She didn’t speak in sentences until she was four-years-old, and she didn’t play or have any interests until she was at least five. Her sister, who is two years older than her, has excelled in martial arts, drawing, reading, writing, and more, from a very young age. We wanted to help Ashley find her own passions as well, but we don’t always know what Ashley is feeling. More than anything we want her to be happy and confident. When Ashley became very interested in horses we saw an opportunity for her. Finding something that Ashley was interested in doing was so exciting for all of us.
On Ashley’s first few visits to CTRC she was understandably impatient to ride a horse. She had to be lifted onto the saddle, and when the instructor tried to put her feet in the stirrups, Ashley refused and became upset. The instructor was later able to get her feet in the stirrups, but for the following six or more classes, Ashley did not participate in any activities during riding class. Although she obviously wanted to ride, she didn’t give her horse commands or interact with others. 
During the week when Ashley was not at CTRC she began talking about riding her horse. It started when my husband, Andrew would talk to his mom on the phone. He would tell his mom about Ashley’s riding, and Ashley would listen and watch. Then Ashley began asking Andrew to, “Tell her!” when his mom would call. Gradually this progressed to Ashley saying, “Tell her about my riding!” and eventually Ashley herself would get on the phone to answer, “Yeah!” to all of Grandma Patti’s questions, such as, “Do you like riding?” and “Do you go every week?”
Towards the end of her first semester, Ashley also made an enormous leap in progress at CTRC. I will never forget the day when after class Ashley’s instructor came over to me with a big smile across her face. She said that Ashley had participated in all of the activities, and given her horse commands throughout the hour long class. We were all overjoyed.
Since then Ashley’s enthusiasm and progress has only continued. She tells everyone she meets that she goes to riding, and she practices giving commands and trotting up and down our street at home. In class she joins the others in giving commands, stretching, activities, and she even began getting on her horse by herself last week! 
A whole new world has opened up to Ashley with horseback riding. She counts down the days until she goes to class each week, and she is so proud of herself. Seeing her passionate about riding, and making progress at CTRC is such a gift to me and our family. We are so grateful for this program, and for what it has done for our Ashley. We can’t thank everyone who works and volunteers at CTRC enough.
Kelly Brozyna
You can read more about CTRC on their site HERE. And please feel free to share your own therapeutic riding experiences in the comments.
Also, I know a lot of you are wondering if Ashley is still chelating. The answer is yes and no :-) Ashley did not react well to DMSA the last time we did it. In fact, I’m feeling very angry with DMSA right now, because of the trouble it’s caused. But I have to remind myself that although we won’t be using it ever again, it was after her first round of DMSA that Ashley was able to talk. So it was good in the beginning, but not so good anymore. 
But Ashley is still detoxing thanks to the Kombucha we’ve been making and the Krill Oil that has been rocking her world. (I call her krill oil the “magic talking juice” :-) I am also looking forward to the day that OSR is available again. (Love Boyd Haley!)
Read more posts about Ashley’s story under the label, “Recovering Ashley” HERE.
♥, Kelly
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  1. Nikki says

    Yay, Ashley! It makes my heart so happy to hear how well she is doing. I also have a 7 yo daughter who is in LOVE with horses. I finally got to take her for a riding lesson and she loved it.

    I appreciate so much that you share your challenges as well as your victories in life! Thanks for keeping us updated.

  2. Anonymous says

    Oh Kelly! Yeah. She looks like she is so happy. I am going to get krill oil for my 9 yo aut son who is non-verbal. thanks for the suggestion! Tracy

  3. says

    Hi Kelly!
    I greatly relate to you, as we have a hyper autistic son, Zach, which we are in the process of healing. That is how I found your blog. He became allergic to everything. Praise God for your recipes, or I think we all would have starved! :)

    I really understand each child is so different in the way their bodies react so I am just sharing with you what I was told, not trying to be bossy. :)

    I love Kombucha, and drink it a lot myself. I think it tastes like wine – which I do not allow myself to drink – so it’s a happy medium for me. :) However, Zach’s Doctor told me not to give it to Zach because it has yeast in it, and since we are trying to kill the yeast we don’t want to add more. I pointed out it was dead yeast, and he asked me, after all my hard work, did I wanted to risk it? No.

    I do give him Green Smoothies with an inch by inch cube of cooked liver in it and that helps. Also, we make an Almond Nut yogurt (cooked for 24 hours) and that has been helping.

    I love Krill also. :) I am so glad to hear Ashley is doing better, I really understand that joy! :)

  4. Eva says

    Oh this is wonderful! So happy that Ashley loves horseback therapy! We did this when my son was 2 years old. To this day I had a chuckle on how my son was so tired on his last day that he fell asleep on the horse.

    Also not sure if you heard the latest news going around in the autism community about the healing effects of raw camel milk. There is a group on FB called Healing with Camel Milk that may interest you.

  5. Anonymous says

    Kel, it just does my heart good to see that look on Ashley’s face. In all your pictures I do not think I have seen it before. I am sure you are over the moon about it. Keep up that good parenting and research and there is no limit to what she might be able to do. She is a lucky girl to have parents like you and Andrew. And that big sister is not too shabby either. I can tell she loves her little sister a lot and tries to help whenever she can. It is so wonderful you found something for Ashley that she really likes. I hope she has many more happy hours with horses.

    Jenny L.

    P.S. – Sorry I have to do anonymous – Google Account never works. I need to check into that.

  6. says

    Loved reading this!

    My husband does therapeutic horseback riding (he’s physically disabled). The group we’re with is fairly small and we’ve gotten to know his instructors very well. (I count his last instructor among friends.) The difference in his walking (which isn’t as often anymore) when he’s riding and when he’s not is remarkable.

    Love therapeutic riding! And I love reading what it did/is doing for Ashley!

  7. Anonymous says

    Hey Kelly,

    So great Ashley has found something that peaks her interest! For our son, 10, high functioning autism, it is guitar. For years we tried everything and anything to find something that he shows obvious joy at doing. He has been obsessed with guitar since he was 2. We wish we would’ve let him start with guitar then! He has EXCELLENT skill now and he has only been playing a little over a year, he also has perfect pitch! We chelate with alpha lipoic acid, Andrew Hall Cutler’s protocol. I have felt better about doing that. But you have to administer the chelator every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days on. If you do not have the gut flora under control, ala can really kick up the yeasty beasties! ALA is the only chelator that actually draws mercury from the brain, as far as I know, there may be new research. We also cannot afford a DAN! practitioner, although we have used one in the past, so we try to stick with things we can handle on our budget and on our own, safely. Anyways, thanks for your blog. :0) Hope

  8. Dusky_Lady says

    I love your blog, especially because I love horses, therapy riding (I have volunteered & was so rewarding) and have taken care of many autistic children AND am gluten free and sugar free! weiw! we are kindred souls I suppose.

    I wanted to share my natural health ideas with you regarding autism & also tell you, It made me almost cry when I saw your little girl on the horseback! Because that was me, just with a different horse and different child. I realize how much joy it brought to me to be a part of something so special, pure and magical, and that it is a part of my life’s calling – therapy riding.
    I also love the lilac pictures.
    Here is something: have you heard of Liquid Needle? I think it’s a cool name because – autism has been linked to the mercury in shots, but this is sort of like the natural health ‘antidote’ as it is EXTREMELY effective in cases of mercury toxicity and other effects of immunization and those who have sensitive systems do so well with these products!

    what it is, is a foot soak, or you can actually put these products on certain ‘points’ (they give you a little map, with the head points, showing you where to apply it.)
    And actually, It is so effective. I noticed a difference when applying it to the little girl I took care of – she was very hyperactive and while not diagnosed with autism, she had alot of the signs. I often wonder if me applying that liquid needle balancer (it comes in a liqued form) is part of the reason she is able to function better now, even after I am no longer taking care of her anymore. Alot of these children are Indigo children, and very sensitive to environmental toxins, poisons, and heavy metals- and especially shots. I also have a video to reccomend for you “Horse BOY” it is so touching! And he also when the natural route, but his journey included him bringing (Rufus was the dad’s name, Rowan was the boy’s name) to Mongolia, to some shamans, and on Horseback! It was an amazing, amazing DVD.
    Here is the link to the liquid needle website:
    (You can also just type in and it goes there too.)
    and then you go to: product categories. then: just lick on “Autism spectrum disorders.” It directs you to some products, and email me with anymore questions. I could talk horses/horse therapy/autism & natural health all day.
    Love & blessings

    PS loved the pippi longstocking vid. I watched the whole thing twice; once with the little girl I took care of! what a free spirit she was :)

  9. Anonymous says

    I am sorry to hear that the chelation did not work out for Ashley- or if it is on hold. You might want to take a look at A study was recently published from John Hopkins university find neuroinflammation and microglial activation in the brains of autistic individuals. Many of us parents are finding our autistic kids have latent infections like Lyme, Strep, viruses like EBV and HH6 (Roseola) and that has caused the neuroinflammation and microglial activation. Treating these infections and treating the inflammation with things like NSAIDs, glutathione and IVIG and immune modulators (Low Dose Naltrexone and Immunovir) has helped many of our kids. For kids with strep and PANDAS (like mine), prophylactic antibiotics, eliminating food allergens and treating the inflammation is reducing and eliminating their symptoms. If you don’t want to use NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, you can use natural COX 2 inhibitors that do the same thing, like Enhansa to cool down the inflammation in her body in addition to what you are already doing. There is a facebook group called Stop Calling It Autism that you can join and get more info. It can’t hurt to look into it.

  10. says

    I volunteer with an Occupational Therapist that does therapeutic riding, and I love it so much that I’m now working on the pre-requisites to eventually become an OT myself! I love the kids I work with, and I love what the horses bring out in them…the OT I volunteer with says she has MUCH more significant results on the back of the horse than when she works in the rehabilitation clinic. I came to this blog looking for healthy recipes, but this entry was a nice surprise, since it is something about which I am so passionate. Glad I came across it! :)

  11. says

    My 4yo autistic son started hippotherapy this past January, and he really loves going. He is nonverbal and not really interested in horse-related stuff outside of therapy that we can tell, but he adores the sensory aspects of riding and it has helped his motor coordination and posture, not to mention noticing animals like horses at all! He won’t wear a helmet, but he loves to trot and lay down flat on his horse’s rump, and this past week he actually put the correct foot in the stirrup and climbed on himself with no prior experience! Such an amazing thing to watch, and we are hoping to start co-treating with speech there soon. :)

  12. says

    Kelly, that letter just made my heart happy. I babysat for an eleven year old girl last summer who is on the spectrum, and she never thought she would be able to ride a bike. But with a local bike riding program for autistic children, she was able to learn how within a week, and the sense of pride it gave her was so beautiful to watch. It’s not exactly the same thing as animal therapy, but your letter made me think of that. I am so grateful that your daughter has such a wonderful family and environment to grow up in.

  13. says

    I just bought your non-dairy icecream cookbook from amazon and am so excited to try some of your recipes! I was looking through your blog today and saw this post about CTRC. My sister, Penelope, works at CTRC!!! She and I actually spoke today and I happened to mention something about Spunky Coconut and your CTRC blog… She got very excited and says she knows you very well!!! Small world!

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