Aurora (pictured) has been coming out for playdates on a weekly basis for over a year now. When she first started coming she loved nothing more than to ride at the canter as much as we would let her.
She spent hours in the saddle with various back-riders playing tag, hide and seek and red light/green light. Then suddenly about six months ago she stopped cold turkey and since then has not been interested in the horses for anything more than feeding them the occasional carrot. She has spent her sessions playing with the small animals and has enjoyed a variety of other activities which have included painting the goats, trick training the pigs and creating art with the rats. This of course is no problem. When children come to Horse Boy they are never forced to ride and interact with the horses. Her parents have been supportive of this telling me on numerous occasions that she is so happy out here that even if she never rides again they will keep bringing her.
For the year that we have known her we have seen many changes in Aurora. She has really come out of her shell and developed into a very independent little girl. She doesn’t want to be pushed on a swing, helped to climb a ladder or lifted onto a horse. We think this in part explains why she stopped wanting to ride or do sensory work on the horses and preferred to be with the small animals where she could be in control and needed limited help.
About a month ago the Horse Boy team attended a clinic and demo with Linda Tellington-Jones, the inventor of the revolutionary TTouch Method. The TTouches (or trust touches) are a collection of easy to replicate circular touches, lifts and slides done with the hands and fingertips over various parts of the horse's body to enhance trust, release tension, overcome habitual holding patterns that lead to resistance, and open new possibilities for learning and cooperation. They also improve flexibility, and can help with health conditions. We have been implementing what we learnt from Linda with all of our horses (and dogs, pigs, goats, rabbits etc.) and have been seeing some really remarkable results. Linda was kind enough to spend a day with us at New Trails and after observing a playdate talked us through how we might use her method with the kids.
Aurora, sprang immediately to mind, so on her next session, when she came over to feed Breac (our dutch warmblood paint) a carrot, we asked her if she would mind helping us to help Breac to relax. The idea of helping us got her attention and after Josh showed her a few of the basic touches she spent the next 30 minutes with Breac doing them all over. She even decided to get up on her back so she could reach her neck and asked us to help her get on so she could help Breac. At the end of the session Aurora put a blanket on Breac and told us to take her to bed. It was a truly beautiful moment for everyone involved.