Therapy to Rider

GB had hippo-therapy years ago. She absolutely loved it. I wasn’t sure how much benefit GB was getting out of it, but the joy on her face kept me schlepping the hour and a half round trip every week. Then my mom got sick, and there was no time any more. A love of horses had been planted.

GB found the television show “The Saddle Club” about girls in Australia who loved to ride and hung out at a stable. It was on PBS and she saw every episode dozens of times. This year her reading advanced enough that she started reading the books. We were looking for outside the home activities that would engage her. She asked to go back to horseback riding. Hippo-therapy was not as good a match. GB adapts much better to new ideas than she did back then and after watching “The Saddle Club”, that is the experience she wanted. She had also ridden a horse on the beaches of Grand Turk when she was six (by herself, but with difficulty) and taken trail rides at a resort when she was eight (easily).

With much angst, we decided to let her try to fit into the world she wanted so badly. We signed her up for an assessment at the local stable. The instructor sent her into the stable to tell the girls she needed “Sally”. The girls took her to Sally, who was a chestnut horse. They showed her two different kinds of grooming brushes, how to use them, and helped her groom the horse. The girls showed GB where Sally’s pad, saddle, and tack were kept and how to put them on. GB led Sally back to the ring and her trial lesson began. She listened carefully to what the instructor did. She remembered lot of what she had learned when she was younger and beamed the whole lesson.

GB will be a riding student at the local stable- just one of the girls. I am praying it works out… she wants it so much.

8 thoughts on “Therapy to Rider

  1. Horses don’t discriminate! I hope the other girls are friendly and welcoming to GB, but her most important relationship through riding lessons will be with her horse. Help her to remember that if she gets upset by how the other girls treat her, Mama. (And turn to the instructors for help if they don’t nip any crappy Girl Nonsense in the bud.) It’s wonderful that you’re able to do this for GB. What a year for GB with animals! First, the dolphin swimming. Now, having Sally to take care of and ride. I can’t wait to hear more ❤ Love to you all!

  2. I did horse back riding for years, and if she is comfortable siting in a saddle and not afraid of the horse then GB can go at her own pace and disability shouldn’t be a limiting factor (as long as you have a good instructor). Even if it takes her a long time to be able to progress in skill, you can do loads of activities and exercises on a walking horse. I’m sure Sally is a very docile mare, so the thing to watch is the instructor, to see if she can adapt to GB’s needs.

  3. Girls who hang around stables tend to be much more kind and accepting of differences than the usual middle-school-age girl. There’s a lot more attention to grooming the horses than there is to gossip about boys and clothes.

  4. This sounds wonderful! Animals can be so therapeutic and I think having a hobby and being part of a group of like minded people is very important for girls that age. Being a “horse girl” is a whole lifestyle and for many becomes a big part of their identity. I have some experience with “troubled teens” and in my experience having an important hobby and positive friends is super important in keeping kids out of trouble when they reach their teen years. Since GB has some special needs she would be at risk of having a difficult adolescence, as I’m sure you know, but being part of the horse crowd and have the horses themselves could literally save her from going in the wrong direction so I really hope she will be able to continue to ride and help out at the stable. I’m really happy for GB :).

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