Jonathan's Poem for the Horse
I am lost in my head
to you my friend.
Every time I'm riding on you
I feel nice about the way you move.
Going to gird up my pace with yours
Together we will make lots of mighty tours.
Fine in making fun with buddies
Love the way your tail swirls to manifest your beauty.
[Jonathan does hippotherapy at Miracles. He does not speak.]
My daughter, who has Down's [Down] syndrome, has been riding with Miracles in Motion for several years. It is amazing that working to ride and care for a horse is not only therapeutic but also improves her skills and development. Through Miracles, we have seen her muscle tone, coordination, attention, and speech improve. The great strides in endurance and strength have enabled her to participate more in her peers' activities of running,jumping, and playing. Nicole, parent of a rider at Miracles
The most meaningful part of my Miracles experience was the transformation I saw in the special needs riders that participated in the therapeutic riding programs. To watch the rider's confidence increase and to witness his joy was an intense emotional experience for his care providers, the volunteers, and myself. I have been a mental health therapist for 40 years. Seldom have I see the profound joy that was experiences by all of us at Miracles. a Miracles volunteer
I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in such an unexpectedly fulfilling experience. Admittedly, my initial motivation was to gain familiarity with horses, and at the same time, help out as a side-walker. I wasn't prepared for the emotional attachments to all those young riders, let alone a unique attachment to one particular rider. I realized that I'm not walking along side those kids, but rather walking along with them. Something happens inside as I hold on to them, feeling their struggles, their discomfort, and most familiar to me, their frustration. Most uplifting, however, is sharing their joy, their laughter, and their sense of freedom and control. a Miracles volunteer
I was invited
out to Miracles in Motion by another veteran who had heard of some
kind of program involving horses. Working with horses had always been
something I’d wanted to know more about, so I jumped at the chance.
I came out to the farm in late fall and was warmly welcomed by Ken Manly, who introduced himself as the barn manager. The first night I walked into the stable, there was a handful of other folks who would be my classmates. We started out preparing evening feed and cleaning out stalls, then went out into the arena where our horses were waiting for us. We were matched up with our new partner and got right to work getting to know him. Our weekly lessons introduced us to grooming, feeding, hoof care, and basic equine anatomy. Soon we’d be up in the saddle. We were allowed to advance our horsemanship as far as time allowed. The teaching style was familiar and easy to follow. Ken has that way of handling himself that is unique to military people, and it made the class relaxed and interesting. You wanted to do well, but there was no pressure. The focus is on your attention to your new friend, not how well you perform.
It didn’t take long to get hooked up with the horse. My horse, Brett, had a way of letting me know how my day was going. When I came to the arena stressed, he was stressed. When I was focused, he was responsive. When I was distracted, he took advantage of it. I became more aware of how perceptive he was, and started to prepare myself ahead of time-during my workday. I was thinking about how to be the calm, confident leader for him. This was a quick gut-check. Was I still keeping up with what I had done as an NCO for years? After just a few classes, I came into the barn zeroed in on my new buddy, and ready to find out what we were going to learn together that night.
For me, it became bigger than once a week. I volunteered for everything I could out there. Miracles had the need and I had the willingness-fixing fences, cleaning and organizing, stacking hay bales, whatever needed done. It’s all good grunt work that clears the head. I liked the work, and I loved the horses. There is something peaceful about walking out to the herd. You know each one by name, and you feel it when they look to you. It becomes a lot like being around your closest friends in the military. You don’t have to say anything. You just know that they know- and you both know it. Rob Hill