Beautiful Whispers

Artwork: 

I was nine years old, when I began riding lessons. Back then, I could never imagine how my hobby could give me the chance to help others in the community.

 

Last spring, I had the opportunity to train with a prestigious riding instructor. When she asked me if I wanted to volunteer with her therapeutic riding program, Greener Pastures. I couldn’t resist. I’d been looking for a way to contribute to my community. I had no idea what I was signing up for or what I would take from this experience

 

 

This really proved to be hard work. Many of these children were non-verbal, autistic, or had other disabilities.  Sometimes, just getting them on the horse took lots of patience and encouragement. But, it was well worth it. One boy, who would yell and scream whenever we tried to get him on a miniature pony, would break into a smile once we got him in the saddle. Kids with social disabilities were able to spend time with other riders, barn staff, and kids in the program. The most rewarding experience was helping a girl with severe disabilities to strengthen her muscle tone and flexibility. We would watch her stressfully climb atop her calm, loving companion, and slowly settle down, a smile slowly flittering across her face. Riding transformed her life. It made me think about my own life and how easy it had been to judge people by their outward appearances.

 

Martina Navratilova said, “Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone." So often people label the mentally ill or disabled as les important, or even less human.  The truth is that they are still human beings—just like the rest of us.

 

Through my volunteer work in this program, I was able to share my passion for riding with very special riders. This small investment of time opened my yes to the beautiful and unique life that surrounded me.