This Saturday morning dawned warm and bright – the perfect kind of weather to be out on the farm, connecting with kids, horses and other animal lovers! It was going to be a busy day at the therapeutic riding center – not only were there several classes taking place in the morning, but in the afternoon there was a special party for a group of physically and mentally challenged children. They were scheduled to come out to the farm and experience the magic of connecting with horses (and cats) that all of our regular riders get to do each week. Although I couldn’t stay to help with the party because relatives were visiting, I did stay a few extra minutes to help get things set up after my classes. I arrived early this morning to help out as a sidewalker in two classes back to back. In both of the classes I was assigned to walk next to Ceeray – he’s one of the taller horses and I often work with him due to my own height. The children today were amazing and so much fun! One of my boys is a fairly new rider and the other has been doing it for several years, so it was really fun to see the differences in how they each related to Ceeray.
The more experienced of my two riders today had no trouble telling him where to go, what to do and how quickly to do it. The boy’s motor skills were impressive, yet I learned that it had not always been so. His parents told me he had struggled with a lack of muscle tone and extreme shyness, but riding had given him the confidence to become more active and social.
My more inexperienced rider, however, seemed to be very nervous and overstimulated. I learned that he suffered from a very short attention span and that riding was helping him learn to focus for longer periods of time. The simple fact that he is actually on the horse makes it much easier to draw his attention back to the lesson than some other activities, as riding prevents him from physically wandering off and requires consistent action on his part.
As always, the day was magical and I left feeling a sense of renewal, as well as gratitude that I am able to use the equine knowledge I acquired over many years of study to do good for those in need.