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

Posts tagged ‘riding’

The Danica Patrick of Farm Vehicles

Let me just say that it felt amazing to be back at the barn after a week off! Country air has never been more needed than it was Monday night! It’s hell week at Columbia College and I’m a little frazzled trying to finish my assignments on time… and then find time to study for my exams. As I’ve said before, DR offers me peace from my hectic school life, and for that I am truly grateful! For those of you who were wondering how my presentation went- it went well (But I’m super glad that it’s over!) I love what I do at DR, so that made it easier to talk about my experience. I can mark that off my bucket list- here’s to numerous more presentations during my academic career!

I actually did something new Monday afternoon. I’ve been wanting to drive the Kabota ( a farm vehicle, like a Gator) since my first day at DR but I never really did anything that was worthy of driving the Kabota. Monday, I got my chance to drive it! I had to pick up some branches that had fallen along the trail riding path and pick up some weeds and tarps that had been pulled out of the ground. Finally, a job big enough for the Kabota. Now, for those of you who don’t know me very well, I’m not the world’s best driver… especially when it comes to driving in reverse. Well, I expertly maneuvered that bad boy backwards and forwards (once I got the hang of driving it, that it!) Just call me the Danica Patrick of Kabota driving!! Finally, after all this time, I got to get behind the wheel- I’d love to say that it was super exciting… but it wasn’t really… I think I’ll stick to my Honda Fit, thanks!  I finished the task unscathed, and the Kabota was scratch free, so that’s always good! I also found out that Lou and AJ might be staying at the DR farm which made me happy! The vet came last week and suggested “Stall rest” to help speed up Lou’s tendon recovery and she gave AJ stomach ulcer medicine in hopes that he would be more calm/comfortable when he has riders on his back. I really hope that they are both able to stay, at least until the fall, so I can give them a proper goodbye!

I worked with Zach again Monday night and he was so happy to be back in the saddle! It makes me happy to see the riders happy; when they have good days that makes my day, too! He was doing a lot more talking than usual which is always welcomed! He makes certain noises when he gets excited/happy and he was making those sounds like crazy! I have really grown to love working with people who have Autism. It is such a fascinating disorder, but I can only imagine how frustrating it ca=n be for both the individual and the caregivers. I was unbelievably proud of Zach Monday night- I love that I have been able to work with him all semester so that I am able to track his progress and have the ability to differentiate between his moods/good days and bad days.  I love when he has good talking days because it makes the rest of the lesson flow much better! I think that Monday was the best day he (and our team of 3 volunteers) have had since the beginning of the year.

I also worked with another rider who has Down Syndrome, named Emma. Emma is an independent rider but she wanted someone to side walk with her since it was her first time riding Molly. Emma handled herself (and Miss Molly) very well. She is a great rider who has a great personality! She was telling me about her birthday coming up and her plans for her birthday party. Apparently, she has not 1 but 20 boyfriends who will all be attending her bowling birthday party… that sounds like a reality TV show in the works to me! The diversity among the riders has really helped me develop my language and actions in ways I didn’t think were possible. Since I work with riders who are nonverbal, semi-verbal, and highly verbal, I get to practice different strategies all in one evening! I know that I am comfortable switching between riders who are very different both in their diagnosis and in their level of abilities.  It is great practice for me-you never want to get too comfortable by working with the same disorder all the time. These experiences are invaluable to me… I finally have some concrete knowledge as to how I might function as an OT!

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Patience: Maybe she’s born with it… or not!

 I guess you could say that I have a patient heart, but an impatient head. In other words, when someone is talking my ear off about things that have absolutely nothing to do with me, in my head I’m begging them to finish their story and praying that they don’t start another one; but instead, I just smile and try my hardest to listen and to display pleasant facial expression. In this case, my heart won out… I didn’t make a scene. Since I have those annoyed feelings, I think that it is a huge injustice to people who actually are patient to label myself as a patient person. I mean I want to give myself some credit here, I don’t strangle people who waste time with nonsense either. So that’s where I’m at- floating somewhere between Mother Theresa and a moderate politician in our current governmental gridlock . Stupid analogy? Probably, but you catch my drift!  🙂 

Yesterday was a very exciting day! I think we might have found out why Zach was having such a hard time saying “walk” and not acting as excited as he has in the past (so I was told.) The young lady who usually leads Molly (the horse) wasn’t able to make lessons last night, so we had to use a different leader. Our new leader walked at a much slower pace which, in turn, made Molly walk slower as well. When Molly speeds up her gait, her body feels much different to the rider- it’d almost an overwhelming experience to feel her back muscles ripple over and over and over with each step. I think that Zach was getting too overwhelmed by the sensations he felt when Molly walked fast. Last night,with the slower walk, Zach was saying “walk” loud and clear on the first try almost every time! I was thrilled to have seen that progress. I was also amazed at difference that changing the horses gait made in his demeanor.  This experience helped me realize how much patience it takes to work with people who have special needs. On the outside, it may seem silly to get excited over someone saying “walk” but I know how much effort it took over the past 4 Mondays to get to this point. I am also learning that progress is, more often than not, is going to come in baby steps in this line of work. 

Last night, I also got a quick lesson in being patient with myself. In the last lesson of the evening, we were short one leader… who has 2 hands and volunteered herself? THIS GIRL! I was way more nervous to lead AJ (the Horse) than I am when I have to help out his rider. It is much more difficult than it looks. The rider kept making him stop when it wasn’t time to stop yet, so that always makes leading horses more interesting! I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to experience that part of the lesson, but I think I’ll be okay if I stick with being a side walker for now! Working with animals ,who can sense frustration and fear, really helps keep those feelings in check. If I’m feeling insecure the horse will feel the same way, which could lead to trouble! getting frustrated with myself during the lesson because I knew that I had no idea what I was doing… but I was trying! I need to work on cutting myself some slack; it was, after all, my first time doing that particular job! 

Nobody ever said that patience wasn’t a learned virtue! 😉