Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Equine Therapy: Horses & Lou

Equine Therapy (aka. therapeutic horseback riding) has been used for therapeutic purposes for years.
Kids and adults, with disabilities, have seen significant gains in their core strength, fine and gross motor skills, sensory needs, self regulation abilities, self esteem, confidence and trust, among many other.

Quinny's been obsessed with horses since I can remember- she has memorized names and characteristics of different species, never getting enough books on the subject. I can't tell you how many times she has asked for a "Shetlend Pony" (whatever that is).

A couple years back, we brought her to a riding stable that specialized in therapeutic riding- but she was just too young.
I knew this form of therapy would be life changing for her, so when I found out that there was a fabulous Equine Therapy stables in a town, 15 minutes from our Forest Grove home- I drove over and signed her up!

I was still nervous about safety and attention span (she literally can't remember things, like not walking behind a horse, unless it is 2 years of constant repetition of such)- but I met her instructor (Mardy) and KNEW she would be ok.

Mardy is similar age to my parents- she is a mother of six and has been an instructor for special needs kids for 10 years.

The way she ENJOYED Quinny and her questions.
How she goes at Lou's pace (never rushing Q through an anxiety fixation, but instead just working her out, WITH her).
The passion she has for horses, and can share with Lou.
And the excitement she has for Quinny and the progress she is confident we'll see.

We've got a winner.

This past Monday, she had her first lesson:

She was SO excited.
SO calm.
SO attentive to her horse's needs (her horse's name is "Pony Girl"...they were destined to be partners").

She's been telling the world she has a horse and gets to "canter" when she practices really hard.
She asks me every day if she could go ride her horse, so she can get her practice hours in.

I tell her: Every monday, from 2:30-3:30.

Never, in a million years did I think one of my kids would be into horses.
In fact, I thought horse riding was kind of an intense hobby, full of intense people who were just not my kind of folk (and yes of course, not everyone in the horse world was/ is intense. It was just my 12 year old brain generalizing).

Two (more) important life lessons I have learned while doing this parenting gig:
1. Ride the ride WITH your kids.
You never know what will be their thing, and if we try and push our own agendas on them, it might leave their souls starving for their intended purpose.
And #2:
Those quirky, intense, sometimes odd-ball folk that didn't suit my fancy in years past- those peeps have become, truly, my favorite humans.
Their daily truth, the way they live their lives with no apologies and no agenda of fitting in, is beyond inspiring and fulfilling.

Maybe our sweet Quinny will become one of those crazy obsessed horse folk- the one's you can't get out of the stables. If that is the case: I better find a place at the farm for her snacks!

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