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Getting high on horses.

Oren Litwin sits up straight on a big brown horse named Sherman. His coach, Rick, holds Sherman's long reins. Sherman trots in a circle around the coach.

Everyone watches as Oren begins his routine. He raises his legs and then kneels on Sherman. Then he raises his arms in the air like a soaring eagle.

Strong in the Saddle

Oren is a horse vaulter. Horse vaulters perform gymnastics on horseback.

Oren also has cerebral palsy. Oren's doctors said he would never walk. But Oren started riding horses when he was two years old. When he was eight, he started horse vaulting. All that exercise made Oren's muscles stronger and stronger. Now he can walk and run.

"When I ride at least three times a week, I don't even limp when I walk," says Oren.

Because of Oren's cerebral palsy, vaulting can be hard and scary. "But I just say to myself, `I can do it. I can do it,'" says Oren.

A Sport of Her Own

Six-year-old Kelly Dawson also has cerebral palsy. When her older sister began dance lessons, Kelly was sad that she couldn't take them, too. But that was before she became a vaulter.

"I like standing on the horse when he is walking," she says proudly. Now Kelly has a sport of her own.

Newcomers Welcome

Beginners like Kristina Wood start with simple exercises. Coach Rick rides on the horse with her.

"One, two, three, up," says Coach Rick. Kristina stiffens her body. Coach Rick lifts the six-year-old to her feet. "Now hold your arms out like an airplane," the coach says. Kristina holds out her arms and squeals. She loves the horses, and she loves vaulting.

Horseback riding helps Kristina. She has cerebral palsy, too. Kristina walks better than she used to. She isn't as shy now, either. She says, See you, Mom," and runs off join her teammates.

The Flying Angel

"I can't wait to come here," says Amanda Keller. "I love to ride horses and see my friends." The horses like the eleven-year-old, too. She knows they like her because they obey her commands to walk or trot.

Amanda has been vaulting for more than three years. She does tricks like the Flying Angel. It is a trick that only experienced riders can do.

She helps take care of the horses, too. "I brush the horses, and I like to feed them, too," says Amanda.

Help from the Horse

Most riders don't have their own horses. The team owns horses for the kids to ride.

Sherman is a big favorite. Sherman helps the riders who fall off of him. When a vaulter falls, Sherman sets his legs close to the vaulter. Vaulters can use Sherman's legs to help themselves get back up.

A Can-Do Coach

Coach Rick knows how hard vaulting can be. He had cancer when he was eleven years old. To stop the cancer, one of his arms was removed. But having only one arm hasn't stopped him. The coach is a vaulter, too. He knows all the tricks that he teaches to the kids.

"Everyone plays and works together," says Coach Rick. "The words `I can't' are never spoken here."
COPYRIGHT 1994 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:children with cerebral palsy learn horse vaulting
Author:Gardner, Karen
Publication:Jack & Jill
Date:Jun 1, 1994
Previous Article:Ears to you.
Next Article:The cry of a ghost.

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