Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2015 >Daily Dispatch 134

May 21, 2015: If You were Home Now

I hit the ground running, which is the way I most like things to be. When I’m idle, I feel like an old car in a junkyard, just rusting away. Spent the morning in the airport, four hours to be exact – read my Centered Riding II book and made more notes. Finally, Rex came and picked me up – he had just picked up Susan Faulkner March, one of the other instructors.

Within minutes I was, in a manner of speaking, back at the ranch – and it immediately felt like home. I said hello to the chickens, gave the dogs a pet, greeted Buster, and went over and gave Peter Parker aka Spiderman, and his buddy Clark Kent, aka Superman some treats and scratches.

Peter Parker’s job (as I learned this time around) is to be an exemplary therapeutic riding horse. As such, he patiently carries kids with disabilities on his back while his team of human helpers accompanies him and his rider.

I was fortunate in that I got to work with Kriss and her team – they clearly knew what they were doing. On this particular day there were five riders total—three rode Peter and two rode Jake, another ranch horse. The kids helped groom and tack up the horse. All, individually were escorted to a mounting block, where they were assisted in getting into the saddle. The horses stood quietly for this, and moved slowly when led into the arena.

I got to be a side walker – I stood by the horses’ side, and held onto each child’s lower ankle/calf. There was another side walker on the far side of the horse, and yet another person issuing directives to the rider.

The lesson began with the children being asked to give a gentle squeeze on the horses’ side, this coupled with the command “walk on.”

The kids did various things during the course of their lessons, such as stretch their arms skyward, lean over and touch the horses’ poll, and ask the horse to whoa. When going over ground poles they were instructed to say “step,” “step,” “step.” All the kids most seemed to enjoy tossing multi-colored balls into a hoop that was approximately four feet off the ground.

Both Jake and Peter were agreeable the entire time, and never made a wrong move. The grande finale was getting the horse to trot. All the kids loved this, and so, it seemed did the horses.

I was blown away by the high degree of enthusiasm on the part of all the kids, from beginning to end. All had huge grins on their faces the entire time. There is, I determined, something about interacting with horses that brings joy to such individual’s faces. I got the sense that these kids aren’t always so emotive. And so in this respect I was experiencing something rare and wonderful. This is a strong argument for keeping horses in our lives.

Next: 135. 5/22/15: The Peter Principle

Horse Care Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles