Published August 23, 2006
The Eagle Tribune
Homegrown therapy on the
By Michael Kelley
The staff at Ironstone Farm in Andover have hearts as big as those of
their horses. Among the myriad programs offered at the farm is Ironstone
Therapy, which uses "hippotherapy" to help people, often children
with Down syndrome or autism, with their speech and language development.
"The movement a person experiences when they're straddling a walking
horse is similar to that of walking, and it often helps them develop
coordination or muscle tone," said DeeDee O'Brien, executive director
of the farm. "So if you have problems with posture, this can be
a wonderful way to improve.
"It's a twofold gain," she continued. "It improves your
posture, but it also loosens the vocal cords. Children also learn that
they need to vocalize what they want the horse to do, so it helps them
The farm works with a wide range of ages, 9 months to the elderly, and
serves 22 different diagnoses of disability. However, they are most
known for their work with children.
"We also work with kids who have cerebral palsy, or strokes at
birth," O'Brien said.
For prospective program members, the best way to arrange a visit is
to call the office and set up an appointment. A one-hour therapy evaluation
is given to everyone, and is used to help determine which program or
programs are best for that patient.
On Nov. 4, Ironstone Farm will host its Fourth Annual Spirit of Giving
Award at Andover Country Club. Lowell Spinners owners Drew and Joann
Weber, the Doug and Laurie Flutie family, and Challenge Unlimited volunteer
Frank Forlizzi will all be honored.
The farm also works with the Special Olympics equestrian competitions.
More information is available at challengeunlimited.org
and you may arrange a visit by calling 978-475-4056.
Street - Andover, MA 01810 978-475-4056
Copyright © 2009 Challenge Unlimited