Enjoy the day-to-day adventures of an Occupational Therapist in training!

If I had to describe my first day as an intern at Dream Riders(DR) in one sentence, it would sound something like this: A barrage of new experiences in the span of a few hours!I was glad for the fast paced atmosphere because I didn’t have time to doubt what the heck I was doing there, and if I was reeeeally cut out to do this internship  all semester! I left the barn at night with all fingers and toes in tact and no tears (from anyone), so I’d say that day one was a success! I certainly heard phrases that I never, ever thought that I would hear during an internship…. but then again, this is an internship of a different color, remember! I wrote them out for your reading pleasure so that you might get a taste of what my first day was like!

5 Things I didn’t expect to hear yesterday

1) “Watch out… he’s a gassy one!” Talking about the horse I was brushing, mind you

2) “Hi, I’m Daisy Lavagirl” How a rider introduced herself to me

3) “Will you duct tape these clothes pins to those poles”

4) “Have you ever cleaned a stall before?” pretty important information to have on a horse farm

5) “Whose poop is this, I need to know because I look at it”

I did a wide variety of tasks yesterday. When I first got to the facility, I was greeted by the head riding instructor, Jennifer who wanted me to help her get the riding ring all set up for the day’s lesson. Each day, the riders are given an interactive activity to do while on horseback. These activities are designed to challenge/strengthen the rider’s cognitive ability and fine motor skills. Being on horseback works on the rider’s posture and balance (plus, it’s FUN!)

Yesterday’s lesson was intricate to say the least! Riders pretended that they were postmen/postwomen and had to collect letters from various “postal stops.” That’s why I had to duct tape clothes pins to poles 😉 . Riders had to navigate through tons of obstacles such as weaving in and out of cones, and making big circles to complete a figure 8 in order to reach their “postal stops” – all while trying to steer a 1,000 pound animal. After the letters were collected and the riders had placed their letters inside their saddlebag turned mail bag, they were to ride to the mailbox and place the letters inside so that they could be mailed out. So not as easy as it sounds!  Everyone looked like they enjoyed the first lesson of the DR season!

The first lesson of the evening proved to be a new experience for more people than just me. For the first time all day, I wasn’t the only one who was unsure about how things were going to pan out! A new horse named Mollie had her debut as a therapy horse during last night’s lesson. Mollie has only been with DR for 3 months; before her life at DR she was a work horse at an Amish community in Ohio, so therapy riding isn’t the life that she is used to. Zac, her rider, has Autism. I wasn’t sure how he would handle being on a different horse nor was I sure about how Mollie would react to having a special needs rider for the first time in her life. My job is to walk alongside the horse and assist the rider with the activities. I was nervous because I haven’t had that much experience with people who have special needs. I was positive that the rider, and the brand new horse, knew more than I did about what to do! Thankfully, the first lesson of Mollie’s therapeutic career was a huge success.  I feel that I have more confidence when giving directions to the rider! Zac and I got all of our “letters” delivered to the DR mailbox all in one piece.  I was surprised by how well Zac rode and how calm he was; I wasn’t sure what to expect during the lesson, but I was mentally preparing myself for a meltdown (from any party).

I stepped out of my comfort zone big time yesterday. I showed up at the barn with no idea what I would be expected to do, and as a person who likes to have everything planned out in advanced, it was nerve wracking to willingly step into the unknown.  There is a lot of horse crap in the unknown, but I am certain that, in time, I will have waded through most of it and  my confidence will improve. Maybe I’ll even stop feeling like a rookie 🙂

Time Spent at Barn:

February 4, 2014

1:30pm-7pm

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