Jonathan's Story

Laura Lopez is a very determined mother. Her journey to find the best possible therapy for her son, Jonathan, has led her many different directions - but she never dreamed it would lead her to a barn in Wylie, Texas.

The birth of her first son, Jonathan, was a blessing to this military family. Early on, Laura noticed that Jonathan was not progressing at the same rate as her older daughter. The pediatricians told her not to be concerned, but Laura, following her instincts, continued to seek early intervention. It took years to get an answer, but finally Laura heard the confirmation of what she already knew in her heart: Jonathan was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.

When I found out that Jonathan had special needs, I tried everything that was out there. I started out with occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy since he was six months old. I did see some improvements, but I wanted more. I wanted give my son the opportunity to try new things for better progress. Then I heard about Equest. It was a different opportunity for him to receive physical therapy, so I decided to investigate it.
— Laura Lopez

Laura and Jonathan visited Equest and took a tour. Her initial reaction was one of concern. The size of the facility, the number of clients and therapists all felt overwhelming to her. Undaunted, Laura moved forward with the registration paperwork. Although she expected the processing of the registration to take month, Laura was thrilled when Jonathan started hippotherapy just a couple of weeks later.

"They lit up a new path for me and my son," Laura says. "I didn't think we could afford it, but surprise, they gave us a 50 percent scholarship. I wasn't expecting that!"

Although still fearful of the unknown, Laura and Jonathan (age 6) started the program at Equest. Jonathan had many challenges such as difficulty walking, sitting upright, and a swallowing disorder.

Laura worried, "Are they going to have the willingness to look at Jonathan, with all his problems, and really work with him?"

But from the moment they arrived at Equest, Therapist Cindy Thomas, PT, HPCS, C/NDT, made the Lopez family feel comfortable. 

She wasn’t doing the therapy by herself. She was teaching me, challenging me. Cindy told me, ‘Jonathan can do more!’ She taught me how to treat Jonathan like a bigger boy - and he loves it!
— Laura Lopez

Cindy also taught Jonathan to walk using a horizontal bar for balance.

We waited eight months for a wheelchair, and it didn’t do anything for Jonathan besides transport him. Cindy gives him a simple stick and he’s balancing his body. He’s walking!
— Laura Lopez

When Equest Therapy Horse Duster was introduced into the therapy regime, Laura again was concerned. "I had the fear of a mother protecting her child, but he connected right away with the horses. They are so calm - it's amazing! It's not like ordinary therapy where he cries when he sees the room. It's different - feeling the wind, the horses, the good vibes from the people - it makes all the difference," says Laura.

To everyone's delight, Jonathan responded to hippotherapy immediately. 

"I can tell you that I noticed a difference from the moment my son started walking to the car after therapy," Laura states with pride. "He wasn't shifting. He was sitting straight in his car seat, he was looking at the environment outside and enjoying himself."

After just a month, Laura marvels are the changes she has witnessed in Jonathan.

It sounds crazy, it sounds impossible. Jonathan is doing much more than people expected - including me. It just worked perfect for him. It’s something that people can say in statements or in advertising, but when you see the changes in my own child - it’s amazing!
— Laura Lopez

Jonathan is showing great improvements in his mobility, his eye contact, and his school reports to his family that he is finishing all of his lunch - something that was always a struggle. 

"I didn't need anything else to know it was the new Equest therapy - that was it," says Laura.

The Lopez family feels their experience at Equest has been priceless.

We know Jonathan’s CP is stopping him from a lot. But with the love we have for him and places like Equest, together we are going to help him get better.
— Laura Lopez

Cindy Thomas and the Equest hippotherapy program have given the Lopez family new hope for Jonathan to develop improved independence. 

"It was the best decision we could have made for him," Laura adds. "With Equest, now it feels like a whole new world! I can see it in his face. He doesn't need works to show me that he's happy. These kids who can't talk cannot express themselves like a normal child. They show how they feel with all their heart with their smiles and faces. I can see that Equest is the best place for Jonathan. He is most happy when he is here. His face tells me, 'This is it mom, thank you!'"

Jonathan's story appeared in Equest's 2013-14 Annual Report

CJ Bankhead