WOW!!! What a great second day at Dream Riders (DR).I was less nervous today than I was on Monday; however, I felt a bit nervous when I first got to the barn.. but it quickly went away. I shocked myself with how confident I felt about my ability to do all that was asked of me today. I wasn’t shy nor did I ask as many questions-I just jumped in and helped out wherever I was needed! This farm mentality is already starting to get to me, I see 🙂
When I arrived, the rider that I would be working with for the evening was already in the waiting area with her riding helmet on and a big smile spread wide across her face; clearly she was more ready than I was to start the first lesson of the evening. She introduced herself to me as Mary (riders’ names have been changed for confidentiality reasons). When I told her that I would try my hardest to remember that, she retorted that I could call her “Majestic Diamond” if that would be easier to remember…. Right, I’ll try even harder to remember that! Thank you, Majestic Diamond for that reminder that it’s all relative! Needless to say, I’ll be using Mary’s amusing pseudonym when I reference her in future blog posts.
Today’s lesson plan was the same as Monday’s (the Postman activity, if you’ll recall), but the riders were different and the type of instruction that Majestic Diamond needed was far different from the instruction that Zac required. Unlike Zac, Majestic Diamond had her speech and was able to communicate herself fairly well. She was born with Cerebral Palsy and is extremely high functioning. I learned today that I can quickly adapt my instruction style and my level of attention given to the rider to meet the needs of the rider (patient) that I am working with. This is a huge part of being an Occupational therapist, and I am so thankful that I am able to practice skills like this early on! I had to also adjust my methods of praise because people who have Autism do not respond to all types of praise methods positively, nor do people with Cerebral Palsy. Since she was much more high functioning than my rider on Monday, I had to pay attention to her riding style and praise her on her good techniques, rather than being able to grab letters off of a pole. Verbal praises seemed to work best for Majestic Diamond. Majestic Diamond had trouble with her balance on horseback and had difficulty keeping track of the order of the obstacles that we needed to go through in order to “get the letters”… and successfully complete the lesson. There were numerous times that we as a rider/side walker team had to go back and retry a certain obstacle. I was really surprised by my patience level- I just made suggestions on how we might correctly accomplish the task and asked her to try again. When one rides a horse, it is always important (and good form) to keep one’s heels down in order to maintain proper balance and correct posture… it becomes essential for rider’s who struggle with balance issues to keep their heels down so that they do not fall off! I must have said “heels down” a thousand times, and thought it at least a thousand more times. Slowly but surely we got through the lesson with relatively little anxiety from AJ (our horse),rider, and side walker (that’s me). Thank goodness!
I am so pleased at how quickly I am adapting to my roles at the barn and how comfortable I am getting with giving my rider instructions! I’m even gaining more confidence in interacting with other riders before lessons. I can’t wait to see what next week has in store for me! Keep reading 🙂
Hours at Barn: