Tuesday, April 23, 2002
Judy Silverman, Chevy Chase
The Change Cope better with multiple sclerosis
The Trick Weekly therapeutic horseback riding
The Story I've had MS for 20 years, and sometimes the disease threatens to overwhelm me. Riding a horse once a week has made a huge difference in my life.
Lesley Shear runs the Circle of Hope Therapeutic Riding Center in Barnesville. Zoe, a white Percheron mare, is her main therapy horse. It's an adventure just mounting and sitting astride. While Zoe stands still, I exercise. I put plastic rings over posts set into the ground. I twirl a small baton or throw Frisbees. I twist from side to side. I stretch my arms up and out.
Then, with a volunteer walking on each side of me, Lesley leads Zoe around the ring. As Zoe moves, the muscles in my back move in tandem with hers. At first I feel strange being five feet off the ground. Then I begin to feel balanced for the first time in years. After two seasons of riding every week, I'm ready to trot.
Riding makes me feel normal. I'm doing something that many able-bodied
people can't do. So even though I still can't walk, or use my hands much,
I feel better, happier, more content. Now I feel there's hope. Now there's
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