Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center helps children and adults with disabilities through horseback riding and hippotherapy.
REDMOND, Wash. — A local family is opening up about how a unique form of therapy changed their sons’ lives.
Marci Bowker and her husband have spent the better part of two decades working with Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Redmond, which helps people with disabilities through horseback riding and hippotherapy.
Adaptive Riding and Hippotherapy both utilize the unique qualities of the horse to effect positive change in the lives of children and adults with disabilities.
Bowker said she has witnessed firsthand how powerful the bond between humans and horses can be.
Bowker’s two sons have a rare genetic syndrome called Smith, Lemli and Opitz that manifests as low muscle tone, behavioral control concerns, sensory issues and limited fine and gross motor coordination. She said when she first brought her oldest son to Little Bit, he was upset. However, once he was on the back of the horse, things changed.
“His eyes lightened up, he sat up straight and off he went,” Bowker said.
Andrew Bowker learned to walk and socialize while receiving therapy at Little Bit. Marci Bowker said he aws only given a 50/50 chance of living, let alone ever learning to walk. Now at 15 years old, Andrew works with his horse companion Ronan.
“Just to see the bond of a kid with a horse is pretty powerful to watch,” Marci Bowker said.
Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center has been in business since 1976. Executive Director Paula Del Guidice said the mission of the center is to be a community where horses transform the bodies, minds and spirits of people with disabilities.
Little Bit was founded by a woman named Margaret Dunlap. Margaret had Multiple Sclerosis and found that being on the back of a horse slowed the advance of her disease. The organization has grown to be one of the largest nationally accredited, industry-leading PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) International centers in the country. Little Bit serves hundreds of riders and patients each week with more than 2 dozen horses.
More than 350 volunteers help to care for the property and the horses.