Small Steps, Huge Smiles

R. is an always-smiling 5-year old with beautiful light brown eyes, who cannot speak or walk or grasp things too tightly. R. is one of the children I volunteer with at Equestrian Connection, a marvelous place where we work with physically and/or mentally challenged people on horses, therapy called hippotherapy.

When R. wants his horse to walk forward, he smiles and grunts to the person leading the horse, and she, the therapist and I (the sidewalker) move forward.  Occasionally, he can grasp the reins, though he is easily distracted and drops them from his gnarled hands.   Today, after many weeks of working together, was the first time ever that the therapist and I removed our hands from his legs and the saddle, how we usually help prop him up. 

The look of joy on 5-year old R’s face was priceless, as he became an independent rider! He walked once around the arena mainly unaided–though our hands were only inches away, should he slip.  I have written this before, but I cannot comprehend the feeling of freedom and exhilaration he must have felt, for one who cannot use his legs to run and jump and climb.

Feeling tired after 2 hours of working with children, R.’s huge success was all I needed to see to know that my time there was worth every step around that arena.  C


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