Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Girl, Big Horse

Haley was very tiny when she first started riding horses. 

She had no fear.  Even before she could walk Haley could climb.  She would climb up the stairs, onto chairs and even up on the kitchen table.  She didn't have a problem being up high on top of a tall horse.

The first horse that Haley rode was Lady. 

Lady was a very gentle horse. 

The owner of the stable wanted Haley to learn how to care for the horses as well as how to ride them.  When we would arrive at the stable Haley would help the owner put the saddle on the horse.  Once the horse was ready I would lift Haley get up on to the horse and the owner would guide her foot over the saddle.  She would then lead her out into the arena and I would stay on the outside of the gate.  I stood there and watched.  I occasionally answered questions, but I basically stayed out of it.  I wanted Haley to get her instruction from the owner. 

The stable owner adjusted the stirrups as far as they would go for Haley, but Haley would pull her feet out of them.

We had a hard time getting Haley to hold on to the horn or the reins.  She had a little figurine in each hand.  I wanted to take them from her but the owner/therapist thought that they were a comfort item for her and so she wanted her to keep them.  She seemed fixated on them most of the time.

The therapist would guide Haley through several exercises while she was on the horse.  I was already a bit nervous that Haley wouldn't hold on to the horn and then here she was with her arms up over her head.

At the end of her ride I would lift Haley down from the horse and she would pet the horses nose and say "Thank You" for the ride.  We would lead the horse back out of the arena and Haley would help brush the horse after the owner removed the saddle, then she would put the brush away.  Sometimes Haley would help them feed the horses. 

Just before we left Haley would say "Goodbye" to the horses and the owner.

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