Ironstone Therapy contracts with nine Early Intervention programs throughout the Merrimack Valley, Greater Boston and the North Shore of Massachusetts. Early Intervention is organized by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and provides a variety of services for children from birth to 3 years of age who are diagnosed with disability.
Parents of young children have advocated that hippotherapy be provided by Early Intervention and this was approved by DPH in 2001. Today children are referred to Ironstone Therapy as young as nine months of age so they can get the beneficial movement of the horse at this critical stage of development.
Early intervention services are funded through health insurance and DPH support. For more information about Early Intervention CLICK HERE to visit the Mass.Gov website.
More than 400 people come to Ironstone's 19-acre farm each week for therapy or therapeutic riding programs.
When Trent was born, his father's ring fit around his wrist like a loose bracelet. He weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces and he could not see or hear. He came to Ironstone Therapy at a very early age.
"He loves coming here," said his mom Jen. "He didn't know how to use his core before. Sitting, he didn't know how to stabilize his core, so he would fall over."
"The people here are great. He thinks therapy is great. He doesn't know it is hard work," said his dad Todd.
...by way of emergency C-section. The family says he was diagnosed with the most serious level of brain bleeds, known as intraparenchymal hemorrhage. "The survival rate was only 15% at the time of birth, and then he had the brain trauma. They asked us if we wanted to pull the plug about three times," said Todd.
Trent rode a more-than-half-ton horse at Ironstone Farm as part of his physical therapy. The therapy helped him understand how to better control his muscles. He learned how to sit up strong in the saddle - and anywhere else his life takes him.
Like other young riders at Ironstone Farm, Trent has proven that he is a fighter. As a baby and a toddler he has undergone brain surgery, two eye surgeries and several MRI's, with his dad in the machine to hold him still.
The physical therapy using a horse at Ironstone Farm is one of several therapies Trent used to become stronger.
"He needs a lot of repetition. This is a different type of therapy so it helps reinforce things," said Todd. "This helps. We need to train his brain to think 'Hey, if I move my muscles, this will do something.' We have to train the connections."
Riding a horse simulates people’s normal walking movements, encouraging strengthened trunk control, improved balance and coordination, normalized
muscle tone and increased stamina.