Back in the Saddle

On our first visit to a stable, Clay surprised all of us by getting on a horse and taking it for a spin. He exhibited an instant comfort level and connection with horses, resting his forehead against their muzzles, touching their flanks. Sadly, his first group of lessons lasted only about a month before issues with insurance led to a need to look elsewhere. Easier said than done, it turned out.

After about a year of staring at painfully long waiting lists for therapeutic riding sessions (and 18-page applications), my wife recently connected with a newly invigorated program that had openings for lessons. So, Saturday morning, we made the 40 minute drive to Rainbow Ridge Farm Equestrian Riding Center to get the little guy back in the saddle, hoping the layoff didn’t dampen his enthusiasm or connection.

Thanks to the instructor, a group of volunteers and a horse appropriately named Lucky, he had a grand time, despite the nippy weather.

Leading Lucky to the Corral

Waiting to Mount

Back in the Saddle

All Smiles as the Ride Begins

Surrounded by His Entourage

Yippee Ki-Yay

The program includes a physical therapist and exercises aimed at working on a number of Clay’s issues. In this session, they spent time tossing a basketball into a bucket from the horse and reaching out to put a ring on the horse’s ear.

Putting Rings on Lucky's Ear

After 30 minutes on the horse, with the little guy clearly tiring, he dismounted (with lots of assistance), and we headed back to the barn. Must have been quite a workout. When I handed Clay a carrot to feed to Lucky as a thank you, he ate it instead. He did let go of a couple more carrots, with some coaxing, so that Lucky and another horse got treats.

Lucky Resting Before the Next Lesson

Next, we took the bag of carrots and some apples to the pen where the goats, sheep and pigs were hanging out. The goats loved the apples.

Ready for a Snack

Begging for Apples

Ready to Go

The little guy’s verdict on this first lesson?

“so much fun,” he typed as we were saying goodbye.

More to come.

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  1. #1 by Kathy on November 21, 2011 - 10:10 am

    These programs are so wonderful and it is sad that there are so few…..obviously Clay loved it!

  2. #2 by Lisa on November 21, 2011 - 11:21 am

    Looks like a great time!!! No wonder we had a great session that afternoon!!!

  3. #3 by Larry Blumenthal on November 21, 2011 - 11:23 am

    It’s hard to find activities that Clay truly engages in, but horseback riding is definitely one of them. He was all smiles the whole time. More on that “great session” of typing later this week.

  4. #4 by Roe on November 21, 2011 - 11:51 am

    Clay gets double the fun at Rainbow Ridge: connecting not just with horses but also the goats, sheep and pig. We no longer need to search for a petting zoo. It was such a joy to witness that beaming smile when he was with Lucky.

  5. #5 by autismmommytherapist on November 21, 2011 - 2:28 pm

    This is Justin’s favorite activity in the entire world. We’re even contemplating Special Olympics! So happy for Clay, hope he loves it!

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