Category Archives: Therapeutic Horseback-Riding

Sometimes dreams take a little longer…

… to finally come true. No, I haven’t found the girlfriend I am looking for. However, another dream has finally become true. A holiday at a barrier-free horse riding centre. Hof Grueneberg , located in Brandenburg is such a great place for relaxation. It turned out to be quite complicated to sort out everything around the payment of the necessary assistance, but finally, with the help of quite many people, we could find a solution.  All in all, the preparation of the holiday took about 9 months. More than once, I was afraid, we couldn’t get it done.

Fortunately, there were always people who encouraged my not to give up. To name all of them would certainly go beyond the scope of this report. However, my riding-therapist deserves to be mentioned here, because without her this holiday would not have been possible.

Hof Grueneberg is such a special place. Nearly all available apartments are completely barrier-free. The flat “Lankesee” which I rented for a week has two separate bedrooms and another couch usable as sleeping place in the living room. The living room and the bathroom are large. Disability-related equipment such as nursing bed and lifter can be rented (against fee). Simply let them know beforehand. A shower-and toilet-wheelchair is available free of charge.

At Hof Grueneberg several animals have found their home. Cats,dogs, chicken and of course horses. Except the horses, you can feed all animals. It is, however, FORBIDDEN to feed the horses, petting is allowed. In addition to offering therapeutic riding, normal riding-lessons can be booked as well. What really impressed me was the fact that the complete area (including all stables) is fully wheelchair-accessible. I can surely recommend the collective-actions offered on a weekly basis as well. Baking Pizza was fun.


I had five lessons of Hippotherapy (including Saturday). There is a lifter to transfer the patient from wheelchair to the horseback and the transfer takes places in a separated part connecting stables and riding arena. The riding arena is big and light. Great. I was allowed to ride Lanka, a really lovely carthorse-mare. Her walk was much quicker than Shirley’s , which felt really strange in the beginning, but incredibly cosy by the end of the week. Such a pleasure, such a sweetheart.

If you want to leave the apartment and stables for a while, the region has a lot to offer. We decided to have a visit at the “Baumwipfelpfad Beelitz (Heilstätten)” and the park of Rheinsberg Castle. Everything fully accessible by wheelchair. However, we dismissed the thought of a boat tour, because the accompanying person was not free of charge. The pulsing German capital Berlin is about 60 Kilometres away.

A lovely, cosy and relaxing holiday ended far to quickly. I hope and pray, that I will be able to see all people and animals again next year.

Declaration of Love to a horse

My therapy-horse has just given me yet another proof that horses are wonderful beings. Not only has she been as gentle and soft as she always is, but she has proven her wisdom twice in our 45-minute-lesson last week: as we were about to start trotting, Shirley stopped. The lungeing rein had had a few knots. As soon as these knots were unknotted, Shirley immediately started to trot as if nothing had happened, she’s just such a sweet-hearted horse girl. And, as already mentioned above, Shirley showed her wisdom again, later that day and I gained the impression that we had successfully communicated for the first time. When I had my hands off the handhold, Shir5ley started snorting very carefully and I somehow know that she would have loved to snort more intensively, but her priority was to give me her security. So, I put my hands back on the handhold, and Shirley thanked myself by snorting loudly and proudly. It’s such a great horse and such a great feeling being able to communicate with her. Please; Shirley; never stop communicating und I only can hope that we have many more years to come. For myself, there seems to be no safer place in the world than sitting on Shirley’s back.




At a time, when the world seems getting crazier almost every day, and hatred seems to be getting more and more present and obvious and in different forms, we all should learn two things again: seeing happiness in the small things in life and being thankful for activities or places we have in our lives, that help us to find our inner calmness and balance.

To me, there is happiness in the fact that “my” therapy horse was coming to the gate by herself during my last visit, it grounds me that she allows me to feel her warmth and power, end it having a place like this, there I can find calmness and peace and just feel happy makes me grateful. Thanks to everybody having a share in that.


Report on Hippothapy published in yearly magazine of Institute of horse-supported-therapy

As many of you know, hippotherapy has a very special meaning in my life. Now, I have received a very special opportunity to publish an article on effects, meaning and feelings triggered by hippotherapy in the yearly magazine of Institute of horse-supported-therapy.  Thanks to Julia Bär for the advice and conciliation,  thanks to all the people enabling me to go to this therapy once a week and , of course, a very special thanks to Shirley, an Irish Tinker Stud with a great and honest heart and a truly soft and warm-hearted soul. You are probably one of the greatest gifts in my life. The online-version of the magazine can be found here

My report can be found on pages 23-26. Thanks to Nicole Burfien und Michael Erler for the great photos.

And yet, another year has passed

And again, I did not manage to report on my riding lessons on a more regularly basis und yet again, I am about to promise that this is going to change. So, it is at least “The same procedure as last year”. So let us hope altogether, that this is not going to end in a “The same procedure as every year”. This is a real pity, because the year that is almost over would certainly have deserved more than just this one but lengthy report. Shirley and I really have made some progress. First of all, Shirley seems to have gained that much trust into my riding abilities that she allows herself to snort regularly with me on her back. In the beginning it was a sort of shy snort, getting more and more honest and relaxing with time. Meanwhile, you can feel her relaxation through her body. Somehow it seems, however, that her relaxation seems to be deeper when we ride outdoors. The only time that her snort was visible up to her tail root was while we were riding outdoors. For the rest of that lesson Shirley’s walk was light as never before.

The second great progress we made this year is that we trot on a regular basis. While it felt very wobbly in the beginning, I sometimes have the impression that Shirley’s trot is at least as easy to sit as her walk. My wise horse girl really deserves a compliment for stopping after a few rounds of trot, so that the correctness of my seat can be checked. I can only hope that I still have many more years with her, the wonderful humans and at the place that really brought back luck to my life.

To all those, who could not imagine what a riding lesson looks like with cerebral-palsy, here is an almost 13-minute-video giving you an impression.


Trying to summarize my year 2014 with Shirley

As you may have noticed, I was not able to report as regularly on my progress with Shirley as I would have wished to do. There are several reasons for that, some of them belong to the saddest experience I made in life so far. Nevertheless, I will at least try to give a summary of a great riding year 2014. Shirley and I seem to become friends more and more. The uncertainty, which I experienced, when I first met Shirley and during our first year of work is almost completely gone. Now, I feel a great comfort and joy while being with her. It already feels like I have found a new friend. During 2014, there have been several progresses from a therapeutical perspective. I have been riding outdoors, whenever the weather allowed it, meanwhile I can even talk outdoors. My personal highlight was happening a few weeks ago. Since I am riding at an earlier time, and one day I happened to experience a ride into the sunset. It almost felt like being Lucky Luke, the lonesome cowboy.

However, I have had incredibly valuable times which I spent just observing Shirley and her friends on their pasture. It gave me power and calmness in the greave times of the year. It almost felt like Shirley and her friends were able to take some weight of the world off of my shoulders.

Additionally it should be mentioned that there has been a report on the stable in the “Pferdesportmagazin Bremen-Niedersachsen”. Unfortunately, I have not been able to read it, yet. I have contacted the publisher, if I could get a copy and would be allowed to publish the article on my private homepage, but did not receive a reply, yet. So stay tuned for further updates.

As a little compensation for not writing almost a whole year, I will finish this post with a little video-sequence, showing the “opening of the outdoor season 2014. For now, I which all horse-lovers and their loved ones a happy and healthy New Year.

The last riding-lessons before Christmas

Three weeks after my Botox-Injections, which had meanwhile come to their full effect, I had my last riding lesson before Christmas this week. I was more relaxed than I had been for several weeks before. Almost as a logical consequence,  I could get into Shirley’s rhythm far better than I could in the last few weeks. Shirley’s walk was soft and safe as it has always been. Right after the first round, I realized that I had more self-confidence, so I asked my riding-therapist, if we could repeat the exercise we did last week.

Riding with closed eyes worked far better than last week. It worked that well, that I rode a complete round without seeing anything. Shirley snorted relaxed and pleased. Next, we did the cone-slalom on both hands.

It was a great and relaxed lesson. The next lesson will be on January 6th so that I wish all riders, horse-lovers and their horses a quiet and trouble-free New Year’s Eve and a great happy 2014!

A horse as breathing-therapist

After the events of last week and taking into account the surprising answer of the horse expert, I was looking forward to the lesson this week. And the lesson was full of light-bulb-moments.

Right after I sat on Shirley’s back and found the right position, my horse turned my attention to what I did not understand last week. She turned her head and took a deep breath. I never heard a horse breathe that deep. It felt, like Shirley was about to say: Understand now, my friend? Oh yes, I did, my dear Shirley.

The lesson itself was full of memorable events, too. The first few laps were more relaxed than those of last week, though not as relaxed as I would have liked.

Shirley’s jerky and sticky movements of last week had disappeared completely and she was far quieter this week. Then, my riding therapist had an idea: I should close my eyes and ride a long, straight line without eye-sight and let Shirley control everything. Not that easy! Interesting how focused humans are on eye-sight, as long as they have it.

“Walking blind” on a horse feels so different! It took me a second try to let it happen. The result was enlightening and exhilarating. As soon as I finally found Shirley’s rhythm while being blind, Shirley snorted loudly and proudly. Almost immediately an intense feeling of relaxation ran through both our bodies. I felt it through every fiber of my body and Shirley relaxed from head to dock. It was a moment of perfect luck.

Learn to speak „horse“

Last week, I had my Botox-injections and an improvement is clearly visible even though I am far away from pain-free. Being not pain-free surely had an impact on this riding-lesson. Somehow, Shirley’s movements seemed to be jerky and sticky. The walk surely was different from what I had experienced the weeks before. I could not interpret what happened right during the lesson. The more I tried to concentrate and interpret what Shirley was doing, the less I understood. It was really strange.I did not feel uncertain in any way, and yet, this lesson was everything but fluent. These jerky and sticky movements of Shirley, a few extra halts and relaxing again.

It was obvious that Shirley tried to talk to me. It almost felt that she was “shouting” but I simply did not understand what Shirley wanted to say. Her warm and gentle way after I disclimbed the horse made me certain that Shirley intended to help me.

After these experiences I contacted the already mentioned Tanja Budnick and told her what happened. Her reply was astonishing, simple but clear as glass, so that I was about to bash my hand against my head and an answer that Shirley should conform a week later. The answer was: Relax!

Riding after Botox-Injections

Today, I received my regular Botox-Injections that should kill my spastic-pains within the next 10 to 14 days. And, we had another upcoming premiere. For the first time ever, the Botox-Injections and my riding-therapy were scheduled for the same day. And, more than that: Only the 30-minute-car-drive was lying in between the leaving of the surgery and the horse-back-riding. A moment, I had desperately been waiting for since the great pain had begun.

The timing worked out almost perfectly and during the car-trip my pain eased a little bit and according to my assistants climbing the horse was easier than in the weeks before.

Riding itself was better, too, even though we had to make an extra hold because of the pain. This time, we skipped doing special exercises since the main task was to dispend the Botox in the muscles. Shirley did a wonderful job and I wished for nothing more than being able to let her know how much our cooperation and she herself means to me.