Wellington, FL – Young dressage rider Hannah Irons of Queenstown, Maryland is blossoming as a participant of Dressage4Kids, a non-profit organization that provides youth riders with educational and competitive opportunities.
Irons will begin this summer with a new international victory and another season of the Dressage4Kids Winter Intensive Training Program under her belt. At the start of this past winter, though, it didn’t look plausible that Irons could have made these achievements by the end of the Wellington, Florida show season.
When faced with a serious injury to her dressage partner, the pony Bohdjan, the ambitious teenager enlisted the help of TheraPlate Revolution Therapy Platforms, the Official Therapy Plate of the United States Equestrian Federation.
With TheraPlate’s help, Irons and Bohdjan overcame odds to reach the accomplishments they have achieved today. It all started at the beginning of the year, as Irons eagerly prepared to begin her full learning schedule of horse care, riding, and training theory when she arrived in Florida in January for her second season in the Winter Intensive Training Program.
Unfortunately, upon arrival, she discovered that Bohdjan, the 17-year-old Dutch sport pony she leases from Dressage4Kids, had injured his front suspensory ligament and would need a few months off to recover.
As the international winter competition season in Wellington is only three months long, this was especially bad news for the duo. Irons immediately began putting together a treatment plan for Bohdjan, or “BoBo,” hoping there was a chance that the pony could recover sooner than predicted.
Luckily, Irons recalled seeing a demonstration of an innovative machine used to reduce healing time— the TheraPlate Revolution Therapy Platform— at Dressage at Devon several years prior. “I was impressed with how good it felt to stand on the TheraPlate,” remarked the now 16-year-old. She consulted with her trainer, JJ Tate, who regularly uses the TheraPlate and highly recommended that Irons look into obtaining one in Florida.
At Irons’ request, the Dressage4Kids Winter Intensive Training Program acquired a TheraPlate for regular use by all of its participants and their horses. TheraPlate is known for its support of organizations like Dressage4Kids, and was happy to help. BoBo immediately began a schedule of daily rehabilitation sessions.
“TheraPlate has been a huge help in his recovery,” said Irons. “By increasing circulation, the TheraPlate reduces pain and speeds up healing. Our vet is very happy with his progress, and BoBo is now back to full work.”
Just one week after BoBo completed his rehabilitation therapy in March, the pair competed in and won the Pony Championship at the 2016 Florida International Youth Dressage Championships at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
“It was my first CDI ever, and it was his first competition after his rehab, so we just went for it and gave the best test we could do. He really tried hard for me,” said Irons. “This was the first international competition I’ve ridden at, and it was a whole new level for me. Competing with so many great riders from all over the world was an amazing experience.”
Although the pony has recovered from his injuries, Irons continues to put BoBo on the TheraPlate to improve his overall health and prevent future injuries. “He goes on the TheraPlate twice a day for twenty minutes. He absolutely loves it and usually falls asleep during his session!” she reported.
The Dressage4Kids Florida facility at Hampton Green Farm in Wellington houses the TheraPlate, which is used daily by everyone in the barn. “It has been a big help,” said Dressage4Kids barn manager Karen Clark. “The girls and the horses wait in line to use it every afternoon, after fitness or before fitness, whenever they can get on it. We have a schedule so that everyone gets a turn.”
Like many riders, Hannah also uses the TheraPlate herself and found that it has helped to relax her leg muscles. “I often stand on it with BoBo and it really helps the tightness in my legs,” she explained. “I can't touch my toes unless I stand on the TheraPlate for a few minutes first! It also helps relieve the terrible pain from shin splints that I get sometimes after I run.”
TheraPlate’s innovative therapy platforms use dynamic movement that can maximize performance for both horse and human athletes, simply by standing on the platform. To learn more about how TheraPlate can benefit you and your horses, visit www.theraplate.com or call toll-free (800) 920-3685.