About 100 years ago when I was able to cognitively process what a horse was, I became obsessed. I begged at every holiday for a horse and even non-holiday’s. I eventually began a collection of horse toys and those plastic horse figures as well as a barn to keep them in, but it just wasn’t the same, ya know? I also watched The Black Stallion movie about 2,345 times and got a book on how to draw horses.
My dad and his brothers owned a farm that we would frequent almost every weekend. We’d have hay rides, bond fires, weenie roasts, marshmallow roasts to make smores, get chased by snakes, deer hunt, squirrel hunt, shoot, and anything else you can think of. There also happened to me a horse on the farm next to ours that was very neglected, to say the least, but as friendly as could be. His name was Golddust and I believe he was a quarter horse with Palamino coloring. He was gorgeous. I used to pretend that he was my horse and I’d bring him carrots and apples when no one was looking.
One day, as me, my sisters, and my cousin were petting him, I got brave, climbed up on the fence, and ended up bareback on ole Golddust, thus fueling my obsession further and much more bareback riding from then on out until we moved away when I was 13 years old.
All my life I have been fascinated by people who have the privilege of owning and riding horses and later, after becoming an Occupational Therapist, I dreamed of one day being a part of a practice known as Hippotherapy.
And guess what . . . over 24 years later, I’ve gotten my wish!
Now, Hippotherapy is not therapy with hippos as a lot of folks think and quite honestly I don’t know why they have used the Greek word for horses as the word that stands for therapy using horses by an Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, or Speech Therapist, but they, whoever they are, did and it has stuck. But I guess my career being called “Occupational” Therapy is misleading as well because no, I don’t help your children find jobs. I wish we would have called ourselves Functional Therapists, that makes a helluva lot more sense . . . I’ll digress.
There is a difference between Therapeutic Riding and Hippotherapy and these terms get mixed up a lot. Therapeutic Riding is performed by any horsewoman/man that is seasoned and in my opinion should have what is called a PATH certification, although there are folks out there practicing without a certification and still call themselves Therapeutic Riding people. Any and all kinds of people and kids can do Therapeutic Riding. I’ve also seen some pretty cools articles on Therapeutic Riding with folks that have PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder here lately and it really does help them.
Now, Hippotherapy is only done by a certified and licensed Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, or Speech Therapist. For me, all the therapy is the same, there’s just a horse involved, which not only builds confidence but also helps with balance, core/trunk strength, and leg strength. It also aides with sensory processing and there are about a billion other things it helps with and I am proud and honored to now be a part of it.
By the grace of God, I have two friends/partners on this adventure and they are two of the coolest ladies around, y’all. One has about a million titles and is as smart as a whip. She has the absolutely lovely farm that we will be using her horse Zayla for our Hippotherapy. This lovely lady teaches riding lessons, I am one of her students currently learning English style riding, and is PATH certified, which is thrilling and a big deal.
The other gal owns a business for children that has a specialized school and ABA therapy. She also owns a couple of horses and has a lovely farm as well, although I haven’t been there yet but knowing her, it’s lovely. I’ve known her forever it seems and we’ve been through a lot together. She’s also hilarious and a hoot to hang out with.
So, with the farm lined up, the horse lined up, my two outstanding partners, and my certification being completed officially in July, although I’ve passed several exams for it already and get Western riding lessons and barn time with my very dear friend out at her friend’s farm where she keeps her horse about 2-3 times per week . . . this thing is going to take off probably safely predicting a June time.
Now, you may ask, “What in the hell does this have to do with blending life and family?” Well, I’ll tell you that the Professor has had to put up with my diarrhea of the mouth about all of this and I feel like I’m that little girl again dreaming about horses and wishing for one 52 1/2 times per day for one. I have been begging him to come ride with me but he gently says, “Babie, that ain’t for me.” Sigh.
He has promised me that once we have the Hippotherapy area up and running, he’ll come then and I can’t wait to show off my riding skills and all the hard work that I’ve been doing that has been taking time away from him. He doesn’t like sharing me sometimes. Bless him.
My wish for all of you is that the one dream that seems to have always been out of reach well, I hope you get the chance like I have to reach out a grab it. I thought this dream was unobtainable but by the Grace of God and my two partners and my dear friend, they are making it real for me and I will forever be in their debt.
If you are interested in learning more about Hippotherapy in general, just Google it, there’s a lot of stuff. If you are interested in it for your child who has any of the hundreds of diagnosis and its not contraindicated, such a seizures, look me up and I’d be glad to talk to you about it.
My website is www.dragonflypediatricot.com and you can also find me on Facebook at Dragonfly Pediatric Therapy. Thanks, y’all!!