“I want the biggest horse,” nine-year old Maya declared as she walked up the mounting ramp.
“This is Shiloh, one of the biggest we are using today,” Susan, the group coordinator replied, as I walked Shiloh by the mounting block/ramp to let Maya climb on.
Maya smiled, shyly pet the Shiloh’s withers, then froze.
“She is too big,” she complained.
“No, she’s perfect,” Susan replied. “She is super sweet. Just put your foot in the stirrup, and I will help you over.”
Maya refused, too scared to move. Susan mounted Shiloh herself, to show Maya how her how Shiloh would simply stand in place until I led her away.
“No, I’m not getting on,” Maya stubbornly explained.
“Why don’t you walk with her, then maybe decide,” Susan reasoned. There were several other girl scouts to get onto horses, so we could begin our riding.
“OK,” Maya answered as she walked back down the ramp, while I moved Shiloh away from the mounting block.
This occurred last weekend while I was leading horses at Equestrian Connection with kids without special needs there—since EC was hosting a girl scout troop—and it was quite different from what I usually did.
In the middle of the arena, I showed Maya how to hold the lead rope. We walked a little bit around the arena, then we stopped and I had her pet Shiloh’s soft black neck.
Susan walked over to us once the other girls were mounted, and we showed Maya how Shiloh liked to nuzzle her palm. Once Maya pet her soft nose, she sighed and agreed to get on Shiloh again.
We walked back to the mounting block, and with only a slight hesitation Maya climbed onto Shiloh’s back. We walked slowly around the arena, me holding onto the lead rope and Megan and Kelsey side walking on either side of Shiloh. Maya was
We were amazed as this tiny girl’s transformation. Maya had never been on a horse. Maya initially refused to mount Shiloh. Maya changed from physically tense to enjoying the exercises and games with the groups.
While standing, Maya closed her eyes and placed her hands on her head. While walking, Maya stood up and hit the hanging balls, first with the left hand than the right. She finally held onto the reins, helping to steer Shiloh over the obstacle course. She played the hanging baseball game, throwing stuffed animals into the open holes, and played red light-green-light, directing us when to stop-go-and even stand-up on Shiloh’s back.
Thanks Maya, for reminding me that we can reach beyond the limitations we set upon ourselves. We can stretch our bodies, our minds, and enjoy. It will be worth it. C