Creativity often drained, resilience at the end of capacity, feelings of defeat- many of our Horse Boy Tribe, friends, and families have experienced this in the days of COVID 19. Now, this is not another relentless reflection on all the negative things that have happened in the last year, but actually a story of hope.
I am blessed enough to still be able to travel for essential business. I was able to return to my family in Colorado when needed, even got to spend the holidays with them in a remote cabin in the mountains. I was able to finish my second residency for my studies in Arizona, and finally, I was even able to travel to Virginia to meet up with Cole’s tribe in Yorktown. And that is where the true light for inspiration and strength truly came from.
We had a big program planned with three courses: Horse Boy 1, 2, and 3 for various folks on different schedules. Exciting and challenging. What blew my mind, was what I found when I arrived. A few years back, Cole’s tribe was one of the first I visited and gave training to. They had just received their first horse from Texas. Megan, the mom of Cole had some very very basic riding and ‘hold on to the saddle’ skills, while absolutely still refusing to canter on the lunge line. She was not a horse person. Her twins still in diapers, and Cole her son diagnosed with autism, just started back riding and longlining a little bit with their basic horse team. He was considered non-verbal, and I was thrilled when we got the word “Splash” out of him to make Ma (the horse) splash in the creek. The horse was boarded at a barn that did not feel quite welcoming to our work and Cole’s needs. Trails were limited, and we were trying to build at least a little bit trot on a ‘trail’ going up and down the driveway.
When I arrived this time, I was curious. I had closely followed the progress of the tribe on our WhatsApp group, seen many pictures and videos, and heard many stories. But what I found went beyond my most wishful imagination.
Here was a successful professional extremely busy Megan, a horsewoman who ponies her son on beautiful trails on her own land in trot and canter, lunging, in-hand, and even jumping, opening her property and knowledge to other families in the community, building the best possible team for her family and work, while developing lesson plans and creative ways to teach them through Movement Method. Mother of twins that now walked and entertained with amusing stories all day long; Cole, who speaks more than 300 words in an hour on the horse, clearly communicating and self-advocating, riding like a pro and even starting to jump on the lunge. At one point he looked straight at me and clearly said “love”- talk about a heart-melting moment.
Megan is the light of hope. She has really done it and changed her dreams to be everything Cole needs. Her new land and barn radiate a warm welcome and acceptance. The team I trained was incredibly motivated and engaged. Cassie, the lead of the educational team- but so much more that cannot even be described, totally surprised me by being just as involved at the barn as at home. She is a brave leader, who has worked through her evaluations with exceptional examples of her work. She is on her way to becoming a trainer and has been a supreme pleasure to work with. But even more than that, the children absolutely adore her.
Two newer members of the Horse Boy Tribe marched their way into my memory. Lee, who has proven to be essential for the preparation of the horses, but even more important, the ponies are healthy and happy. Our shared passion for cross country jumping allowed a lot of creativity and excitement to be part of the training. Brian, our dressage expert, showed his skill and is developing into a nice addition to the team. Both are absolutely wonderful with the children and the horses- challenging to find folks like that. Megan chose well. With her leadership, we had a few days of outstanding training and progress, and I feel extremely privileged that I was able to be part of it all, at least for a short time.
What gives me hope, inspires me, and recharges my vision and wishes for change in education and therapy programs, is, here is actually someone (besides Scub and Rupert) who has done it- who has started from scratch with very traditional approaches and turned it into a safe haven for her children and other families. She could have had a million very acceptable excuses, but she simply got started and turned things around. It is most certainly refreshing to see, and I wish them the very best to continue the dream.