Ride 'em Cowboy

We need financial support to allow one of our group home residents to continue receiving therapeutic horseback riding services.

Kelvin is a 29-year-old client of Avondale House whose life has been severely affected by autism. Unable to live at home with his family, he has lived at one of our group homes for almost 20 years. He experiences seizure disorders, has an intellectual disability, is non-verbal, and is profoundly autistic.

On top of all that, Kelvin suffers from cerebral palsy; so much so, that he walks essentially “bent in half,” looking at the floor. To overcome his severe muscle and joint contracture, his doctors have recommended therapeutic horseback riding.
For the last year, Kelvin has been riding horses at the Sienna Stables in Missouri City, operated by SIRE, a therapeutic equestrian center.
Joelle Devlin, his instructor, comments, “It took Kelvin very little time to learn how to crest mount the horse, and then just a few weeks to learn basic horse commands. He was a little shaky at first and required constant adjustment on the saddle.”

“Now, as he rides each week, I have seen Kelvin straighten inch-by-inch in the saddle. He is smiling and excited when he arrives at the stable, and has almost perfect alignment on the horse -- from ear to shoulder to hip to back-of-the heel.”
Kelvin has not been miraculously cured -- he still has spinal curvature, but his horseback riding activities have helped his mobility and balance.
“He seems so content on his horse,” says Patti Kelly, Avondale House’s Program Director. “He has a little better posture and does not stumble as often. He cannot verbally tell us, but he really seems to enjoy the sessions. Plus, it is so important to keep him active, so that Kelvin does not ever become wheelchair bound, a circumstance that might cause him to be placed in a different group home setting. He is happy to live here, and we want to keep him here at Avondale House.”

Funded by Houston (October 2011)