Forget Sochi2014…. it’s Dream Riders 2014. If horseback riding was a winter Olympic event , I am 100% certain that the riders that I worked with today would gladly volunteer as tributes to Sochi in order to participate! The sun was shining bright, but there were still piles of snow all around the farm-it made for a chilly, but beautiful day working with riders! The areas that weren’t snow covered were very muddy. Hey, at least my boots actually have a reasonable amount of dirt on them now 🙂 The Tuesday morning lessons and the Thursday evening lessons were cancelled this past week due to the apocalyptic amounts of snow that accumulated around the Columbia,SC area, so today was a make-up day for those students.
I was able to work with a few new riders which I love to do because it keeps me on my toes, and it’s always exciting! Doing the same lesson 5 times a week could easily get boring, but thankfully my riders keep me giggling and alert all week long! This morning I worked with a 16 year old girl named Sara who has Autism and is prone to have high anxiety levels. She was riding Molly, which was a new experience for her, and she was working with me (someone who she’s never met before.) I was apprehensive when I found out that she experiences high anxiety levels coupled with Autism because she was introduced to a whole lot of new in the span of a few minutes and I wasn’t sure if she would get overwhelmed by all of it. I was pleasantly surprised with how well Sara handles the “Valentine’s Day Heart Drop” activity that we did! She was very talkative, and wanted to know all about me. She is a great rider- I only had to correct her foot position in the stirrups a few times, and after that, I caught her correcting herself! I was so proud! I was also a little bummed that I couldn’t work with her more since I have classes during her regular riding hour 😦
Working with children who have Autism has helped me to really grasp that psychological disorders are displayed differently in each person who is diagnosed with a particular condition. Let me offer a (probably overly simplistic) example of what I mean. Say that 2 people have cat allergies. Both people can have very different physical reactions when they are exposed to cats. Person A could have itchy,red, eyes, while Person B begins to feel their throat swell when they are around cats. Same “diagnosis”, but very different expressions of the “diagnosis. The same is true for conditions like Autism. For example, Zach has less verbal skills than Sara has, however, Zach was much more in tune with the horse than Sara was. Conceptually, I knew that psychological disorders have the potential to vary between patients who have similar conditions, but it is really interesting to observe that concept first hand. I can compare and contrast the behaviors that the 2 riders with Autism exhibit and get to see first hand how vast the Autism diagnosis really is!
My last rider was a sweet little fella named Max. He was one heck of a rider for being only 8 years old. He made my job way too easy for me… he was definitely in command of his horse and had a great understanding of what we were supposed to do! So rather than focusing my attention solely on the lesson and the rider’s techniques, I was able to just talk to him, and encourage him to plan out his next moves on our follow-the-leader-style activity. This was a new experience for me. It was nice to be able to focus on other things (mainly answering his many questions)! When I asked him if he remembered my name, he looked at me with a straight face and said “yes! You’re Sami the Wonder Dachshund!!” Y’all… what is with these kids and alter egos/random name changes?!?! Thankfully, Mr. Max explained that “Sami the Wonder Dachshund” was the main character in one of his favorite books..Which I promised to check out from the library and read before next Thursday’s lessons so we could discuss them. 🙂 Did I mention that I have the coolest internship ever??? Well, now you know 🙂
Hours at Barn: