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San Antonio Express-News article about us Monday, July 15, 2013:

Taking the alternative route

  Therapies help children with special needs

  By Jessica Belasco STAFF WRITER

     Doyle Spratling, 4, loves to swim and play in the pool. Jose Carlos Guevara-Stevens, 13, looks forward to his horseback riding lessons. Jana Phillips, 7, enjoys twisting, bending and stretching in her Wednesday yoga sessions.

   For the kids, these activities are fun. What they may not realize is they’re also therapeutic.

   “They’re just having a good time out there,” said Estela Stevens, about her sons, Juan Pablo, 12, and Jose Carlos, who have autism spectrum   disorders and take therapeutic riding lessons.

   While traditional therapies can make a tremendous difference, more and more parents of kids with developmental disorders and physical disabilities are turning to alternative, complementary and experimental therapies to help their children function at a higher level and improve their quality of life.  

   Here’s a look at some of these therapies:

Therapeutic riding and hippotherapy

   At the Saddle Light Center for Therapeutic Horsemanship, some of the most qualified staffers have four legs and a mane.

   Children with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Down syndrome, autism, spina bifida and other disabilities ride and play games on specially trained horses at the center, which is near Retama Park in Selma.

   Some kids take therapeutic     riding lessons, which teach them equestrian skills; others undergo hippotherapy, which uses the horse as a tool to treat a disability.

   Hippotherapy works like this: A horse’s hip movements mimic humans’ movements when walking — anterior/ posterior tilting, lateral shift and rotation — and those movements transmit sensory input to the child, said Kerstin Fosdick, Saddle Light Center’s executive director and a licensed physical therapist.

   “We see improvement in posture, in balance and in mobility,” Fosdick said.  

   Therapeutic riding lessons can help kids develop coordination, strength (especially core strength) and balance, she said, and riding can calm children with autism and emotional disabilities and help improve their patience and emotional control.

   Jo-Anne Guerrero said the horses “know these kids are unique.” Her son Noah, 11, has an autism spectrum disorder, and riding a palomino quarter horse named Schooner eases his anxiety.

   “Just knowing he’s going to see Schooner, I see (Noah’s) energy go down,” Guerrero said.  

   She even reminds Noah to think about “his” horse when he’s not at the riding center: “When he’s not in control, I tell him, ‘Remember how you feel with Schooner?’ ”

   Noah feeds carrots or apples to all 12 of the center’s horses after his sessions.

   “He’s always calm,” he said about Schooner. “He never snaps at me.”

   Most insurance providers do not cover therapeutic riding lessons, but some cover hippotherapy sessions conducted by a physical therapist.

   Other facilities offering therapeutic horseback riding include Open T.R.A.I.L. in Boerne, Triple H Equitherapy Center and Upward Transition Therapeutic Horsemanship in Pipe Creek, A W.A.R.E. Inc. in San Marcos and Dream Walkers Equine Therapy Center in Uvalde.



Kevin Gonzales, Rider and Lois Horton, Volunteer                   Theodore Anderson takes the saddle off Blackjack after his lesson 







I-Str3and Foundation

 I:        International

S:        Studies

T:        Therapy

R3:      Research, Recreation, Rehabilitation of

N:        Neurological

D:        Disorders

             Conceived and organized in Texas, United States of America in 1998.  The purpose is to generate, manage, distribute, and recruit resources for the individuals who have or are likely to have neurological disorders and for those whose desire is to participate in the education (studies), (individuals/organizations) therapy (treatment), research – recreation – rehabilitation process of those who suffer from and/or those who desire to endeavor to alleviate the suffering associated with the physical, psychological, spiritual, social, economic, and cultural aspects of neurological disorders worldwide. 

             The foundation operates under the name I-Str3and.  I-Str3and is a sovereign body which adopts the following articles and submits itself to be governed by them and the Laws and Regulations of the State of Texas as a non-profit corporation.  The existence of the corporation is perpetual.

            This Foundation was initially organized by the Dwyer family, whose family member, Christian Dwyer, had suffered both spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.  Consequently, they were made aware of the tremendous needs and expenses of such individuals. 

Christian Dwyer

        In 1995 Christian was a sophomore at Southwest Texas State University.  He was an A student, majoring in political science.  He was also on the SWT rodeo team competing as a bull rider.  Christian has always enjoyed sports, hunting and horseback riding.  He is the oldest of 8 children and was raised on a ranch south of Seguin.

             In March of that year, Christian was injured in a truck accident during a blizzard in southern Colorado.  His injuries were so severe, that he was not expected to live.  He suffered from traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injury, multiple internal injuries and he was in a coma for 6 weeks.  By God’s grace and mercy, he survived the wreck and has made remarkable physical and mental improvements since that time.

 In 1998, Christian began art lessons under the skillful teaching of local artist, Liz Kay.  His medium is oil and he primary focuses on landscape and seascapes.  It normally takes him 6-8 weeks to finish a painting.  Being creative with oils has given Christian a great deal of joy and satisfaction in his life.  These “touched up” prints are just a small sample of the work he is doing today.

 Please visit his website:  www.christianscanvascreations.com


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