PHOTOS BY JANET REDYKE
Diane Simon holds Blackjack the pony as Natalie, Greta, Jemma and Kaylie wait for Winter Pony Club class to begin.
By janet redyke
HAMBURG — Animals and humans have always had a close connection. Diane Simon, an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist realizes this connection. Simon established Pedia- Rehab Inc. Speech and Language Pathology Services for children and adults with and without the use of her horses at Top Form Horses Farm in Hamburg. Pedia- Rehab provides services to clients with some of the following communication difficulties: Articulation, Phonological, Cognitive and Learning Disorders, as well as, traumatic brain injuries, stroke aphasia, memory enhancement, stuttering, child study team services, English as a second language and of course equine assisted speech therapy. According to Simon, the miracle of horses is that sometimes silence is golden. “Horses have a remarkable ability to connect with people. They help us connect and communicate with family and friends. Through horses we can learn the job of communicating with others,” explained Simon. Using horses, Simon provides both equine assisted and hippotherapy. Hippotherapy is a mounted speech-therapy session where the horse is used as a treatment tool. Equine assisted therapy involves the horse and stable environment at a ground level. Simon is excited that her programs have recently been approved by Medicare and she is also currently seeking the approval of several health insurance companies. On Saturday Feb. 9, Top Form Horses, began a non-special needs course entitled The Winter Pony Club. The course follows the specifications of National Horsemanship and is offered to youngsters age four and up. Using her two beautiful black horses, Blackjack, a pony and Jet, a standard horse, four eager students set out in Simon’s heated barn to learn equine winter blanketing, first aid and unmounted ground basics. Children and horses alike seemed to be having the time of their lives. In a hands-on method, each student was able to apply cold day blankets, moisture absorbing and waterproof gear to a very cooperative Blackjack. In springtime, the students will saddle up for mounted classes. Simon is hoping to begin a Senior Pony Club where senior citizens can learn horsemanship basics as well as enjoy riding. Top Form Horses Farm is located at 30 Beaver Run Road in Hamburg. For further information, call 973-827-6039 or visit www.topFormHorses.com.