Open Arms Therapy (OAT) - Dalhart (TX) equine therapy for the disabled

Caleb Hiner

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Therapeutic riding does work miracles!

By Kristen Hembree

Caleb Hiner, 3 year old grandson of Rocky and Cindy Hiner of Dalhart, has been receiving BOTOX® injection treatments shots in both of his legs, his right arm and his right hand every three months for almost 2 years.  Caleb has Cerebral Palsy, Cortical Visual Impairment, Mental Disorder, Autism, paralysis on his right side and very little upper body strength.  BOTOX® injection treatments are successfully used to treat blepharospasm and strabismus and BOTOX® treatments are also proven useful in treating cervical dystonia -- these are all conditions that in some way involve spasms, involuntary muscle contractions. Within a few hours to a couple of days after the botulinum toxin is injected into the affected muscle(s), the spasms or contractions are reduced or eliminated altogether. The effects of BOTOX® treatments are not permanent, reportedly lasting anywhere from three to eight months. By injecting the toxin directly into a certain muscle or muscle group, the risk of the treatments spreading to other areas of the body is greatly diminished. 

In December 2008 Caleb required 6 shots in his legs.  The BOTOX® helped to reduce the spasms and enabled Caleb to straighten his legs out. According to Cindy Hiner, Caleb’s grandmother and care giver, it was becoming increasingly difficult to dress him.  “His legs were so tight that they would not straiten and his feet pointed down to the floor they just would not bend.”  Caleb started therapeutic riding with Open Arms Therapy (OAT) in January 2009.  In the beginning the muscles in Caleb’s legs were so tight it was almost painful for him to ride.  Even with the BOTOX® his legs did not want to stretch around the barrel of the horse.  His riding time was limited at first.  Caleb and his grandparents never gave up.  They continued with the OAT therapeutic riding lessons, two days a week.  Over time Caleb’s legs became more limber and he was able to ride for longer periods of time.   Cindy said “It was so great to see (his improvement) every time I went to put him on the horse his legs just started to open more and more till now he has no problem with getting his legs around his horse. He just smiles and slides right on.”   

The number of BOTOX® injections Caleb has received over the last 6 months has declined significantly.  Where Caleb required 6 injections in December 2008 he only required 3 in March 2009 and then miraculously on June 10 he received no injections in his legs. According to the doctor, Caleb’s legs were limber and showed little or no muscle contraction.  “It was so AWESOME to hear Caleb’s doctor say that he was doing so amazingly and that he did not need BOTOX® in his legs this time”, said Cindy. 

Many other improvements have been observed in Caleb as well.  He no longer requires a brace for his upper body when he rides due to improved development and strengthening of his core muscles.  He shows signs of contentment and joy by the soft “cooing” sounds and the relaxed, happy facial expressions he makes while riding.  Caleb has also demonstrated strength in his legs by supporting his own weight while pulled-up to a stationary object and standing for several minutes after riding; something he has not had the strength to do previously.  Due to his many disabilities Caleb has yet to demonstrate the ability to crawl or pull-up like a toddler until now. 

Caleb’s grandmother, Cindy, shared the following; “The therapeutic riding has made all the difference in the world to Caleb.  It is so amazing what horseback riding has done for my grandson.  Not only has it alleviated much of the pain caused by the spasms and contraction but also the fact he no longer requires the very painful shots. I'm so thankful God gave us this amazing animal we call the horse and to Open Arms Therapy and the wonderful volunteers  for making it available to one very special 3 year old little boy, it is changing his world with every therapy session.”


(This article was submitted to the Dalhart Texan on 6/16/2009, all rights reserved)

Caleb and Cindy Hiner

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