Bethany had a tough start, at just four days old she was diagnosed with Group B streptococcal meningitis. “We weren’t sure she was going to make it,” said her mother, Michelle. Not long after, Bethany was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. “Doctors weren’t sure what other difficulties she’d have, but they would be revealed as she grew.”
Thornton can discuss this calmly now, because Bethany is now 21 years old. “She mainly has difficulty walking. Though she can walk, she didn’t learn to walk until she was about 5 and a half years old.” Thornton says Bethany is also cognitively impaired, “she’s about at the level of a second grader.”
A physical therapist recommended Miracles in Motion to the Thorntons while Bethany was still very young. The therapeutic riding center based in Keene specializes in adaptive techniques ensuring that everyone who comes to ride ends up on a horse, whatever the hurdles.
“From the very beginning she absolutely loved it,” says Thornton. “Whenever I say ‘we’re going to go ride the horse,’ she lights up with excitement. Physically it helps her because it helps her loosen her muscles. When she’s on the horse she feels free, because she doesn’t have to expend all the energy to try to move her legs and walk.”
Thornton credits the tandem work of Bethany’s therapist and Miracles in Motion for her development. “She didn’t learn to walk until she was about five and a half years old, but if she hadn’t been riding who knows when she would have walked.”