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Equestrian center aids breast cancer rehabilitation

Dream Rider Equestrian Therapy in Alpine, California has created a unique rehabilitation program for breast cancer survivors that uses horses and music to promote relaxation during cancer treatment.

One of the center's horses, Shalom, was rescued at a Northern California horse auction before founder Catherine Hand brought him to the center. The treatment options center around riding Shalom and practicing breathing exercises such as aligning your breath with the horse's rhythm. The treatments have proven beneficial and the irony is not lost on patients who, like Shalom, have been given a second chance.

Catherine Hand is a breast cancer survivor herself and was diagnosed with final stage breast cancer in 2007 and was told that she only had a month to live. Hand was on oxygen and in a wheelchair when she discovered the merits of hippotherapy, the art of movement.

"You can feel when the horse breathes in and out. It's very deep. I was able to retrain myself to breathe without the oxygen...I was able to push myself to sit up," said Hand.

According to the American Cancer Society, excluding skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women.
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