Horses have healing touch at Dusty Boots in Weston PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Farm Editor   
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 08:55
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Joey Deal, 7, with Red, at Stacey Creps' Horse Therapy Farm near Weston. Deal has been doing his therapy at the farm since August. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
WESTON - Hippotherapy may be a new word to most of our readers, but the equestrian therapeutic program is providing some great strides in many of the clients at Dusty Boots, LTD, in rural Weston.
Having nothing to do with a hippopotamus, the therapy is defined as a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input.
Joey Deal, a 7-year-old Toledo resident, is one of beneficiaries of the program.
His mother, Loretta Deal, says, "We have seen a total change in him. He has gone through three horses," illustrating how he has progressed from the simplest challenges to more difficult ones with the different horses.
The young lad has been diagnosed with multiple challenges but is progressing well in various areas due to the therapy.
"We have seen a total change in him," she said, noting how his speech is more understandable and he has broadened his vocabulary from 20 to 50 words.
She also shared how before the therapy he could not balance himself on a beam, but now he can stay on the beam.
Dusty Boots is operated by Stacey Creps, who says the hippotherapy is a little more intense than many other forms of equestrian therapy. In addition because of her licenses, she is able to bill insurance companies for the therapy sessions.
With Joey, Creps said experts did not expect to see any improvement in him for a minimum of six weeks.
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Stacey Creps (left) and Beth Rodriguez work with Levi Batson who was there taking part in a pre-school camp.
"He was noticeably improving after three weeks," the therapist said.
"It was the best thing we ever did for him," Deal said of her son.
Creps says the therapy involves many tactile sessions such as grooming or otherwise working with the horses. Various challenges are also mastered on the horses through riding in different positions such as sideways or supported by the elbows, etc.
Creps says the therapy is a viable option for many diagnosis and they can serve those age 2 and up. She currently has one client in his 50s.
"We feature a little bit of everything," the owner said.
She adds that she has a degree in physical therapy with additional training through the Hippotherapy Association. Dusty Boots currently has 13 horses, with seven of them actively used for therapy. Creps has worked in physical therapy for 17 years and is now in her third year as a hippotherapist.
Creps noted how many of her patients have moved on to independent riding.
Last year the farm conducted a horse show with more planned for this year. Similar to shows at fairs and other exhibitions, the show awarded those involved with the therapy ribbons in various categories based on their skill levels with the horse.
"It runs like a regional show," Creps said.
She said the patient referrals come from a variety of sources including other therapists, physicians, hospitals, school psychologists, support groups and more.
In addition to Dusty Boots, Creps works with Sensational Kids, a daycare and learning center in Holland. Some of her clients are referred through that organization.
Not just any horse can serve on the Dusty Boots ranch.
"The majority of the horses are donated and are usually older," Creps said.
The oldest currently is Red, a 31-year-old standardbred. Before being used in therapy, Creps said she tests out the equines on her own children, ages 15, 12 and 9.
"My children are test dummies," she said.
 

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